Aaron Wainwright's meteoric rise from Whiteheads to Wales

Aaron Wainwright
Aaron Wainwright started playing on the wing before being converted to a back row
Wales v South Africa
Venue: RFK Stadium, Washington DC Date: Saturday, 2 June Kick-off: 22:00 BST
Coverage: Live scores and commentary on the BBC Sport website and app, Live commentary on Radio Wales AM and Radio Cymru

Aaron Wainwright can complete a meteoric journey from Whiteheads RFC to the Wales senior team this weekend if he wins his first Test cap.

The 20-year-old only started playing rugby three years ago, but found himself called up to Wales' summer tour of the USA and Argentina.

The back rower impressed after being catapulted into the Dragons senior team following an injury crisis.

"I don't think my season could have gone any better," he said.

Wainwright was a promising footballer, and played for Newport County after being released from the Cardiff City Academy when he was 16 where he had played with Regan Poole who is now with Manchester United.

He was offered a scholarship with The Exiles, but declined after wanting to stay at Bassaleg School with his friends.

He was persuaded to join them at a Whiteheads RFC training session, and the rest as they say is history.

Aaron Wainwright
Wainwright signed his first senior contract with Dragons in March this year

Wainwright played for Dragons under 18s and Cardiff Met University, where he was studying sport and exercise science.

But injuries to the likes of Nic Cudd and Ollie Griffiths opened the door to the senior Dragons side, and he made his debut against Cardiff Blues in October 2017.

He went on to make 25 appearances for the region, and despite a poor run of results, caught the eye of Wales head coach Warren Gatland who called him up to the squad to replace the injured Josh Navidi.

"I got a call, I was sat on my sofa watching TV and I didn't believe it at first," said Wainwright, who can play either blind or open-side flanker.

"But then Alan (Phillips) reassured me and told me they wanted me to come in for training on the Thursday.

"I told my dad then and he thought I was having him on, but he was really chuffed afterwards.

"Hopefully if I get the opportunity to play on tour, I can do the same, take my chance and make an impression."

Aaron Wainwright
Wainwright arrives in Washington ahead of the game against South Africa

Wainwright said he was already learning from the "more experienced boys" in the Wales camp, and despite finding it "tough on the legs" is improving every day.

He was also glad to get his hands on some Wales kit after he was not selected for the under 20s.

"I rocked up in my Dragons kit last week. I was really happy to come in and fill my car up, I've got a couple of suitcases of it."

Gatland said every member of the summer tour squad is in the running to be selected for the 2019 World Cup.

"Hopefully my name will get thrown around," said Wainwright.

"I'll just try to work hard and if I do play well, hopefully I get in with a chance of going next year... we'll have to wait and see."

He had been due to go on holiday with his friends last week, but instead of sunning himself in Marbella, he could be locking horns with South Africa and Argentina.

Just a year after he was playing for Cardiff Met. That is quite the remarkable rise.

Wales squad

Forwards: Rob Evans (Scarlets) (25 Caps), Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (8 Caps), Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (18 Caps), Elliot Dee (Dragons) (7 Caps), Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (2 Caps), Rhodri Jones (Ospreys) (16 Caps), Samson Lee (Scarlets) (38 Caps), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps), Adam Beard (Ospreys) (2 Caps), Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (62 Caps), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (4 Caps), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (*uncapped), Cory Hill (Dragons) (15 Caps) (Co-Captain), James Davies (Scarlets) (1 Cap), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) (6 Caps) (Co-Captain), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (20 Caps), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues) (8 Caps).

Backs: Aled Davies (Scarlets) (8 Caps), Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (32 Caps), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (*uncapped), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (15 Caps), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets) (8 Caps), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (6 Caps), Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (4 Caps), Scott Williams (Scarlets) (55 Caps), Hallam Amos (Dragons) (15 Caps), Steff Evans (Scarlets) (9 Caps), George North (Ospreys) (73 Caps), Tom Prydie (Scarlets) (5 Caps)

2018 summer tour schedule

Saturday, 2 June

South Africa v Wales (Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, USA)

Saturday, 9 June

Argentina v Wales (San Juan del Bicentenario Stadium, San Juan)

Saturday, 16 June

Argentina v Wales (Estadio Brigadier López, Santa Fe).