AARON Wainwright’s learning curve was already steep after only taking up rugby at the age of 17 but it has gone to Himalayan after the flanker’s surprise Dragons call-up.

The 20-year-old from Bassaleg has made four regional appearances for the Rodney Parade region after answering Bernard Jackman’s injury SOS.

With Nic Cudd out for most of the season with knee ligament damage, Harri Keddie out with a shoulder injury until the New Year and Lewis Evans, Robson Blake and his fellow prospect Max Williams having spells on the sidelines, opportunity knocked.

Wainwright was meant to be learning in the Principality Premiership in black and amber but instead has found himself on the field in the Guinness PRO14 and European Challenge Cup.

“It’s been nice to get a couple of games and starting in Newcastle and Russia was a good experience,” said Wainwright.

“I am just enjoying getting a bit of action in the team and I didn’t expect any of this. I was playing at Cardiff Met last year and was meant to be with Newport RFC but after a couple of injuries I was thrown in at the deep end.

“I am just trying to work hard, keep my head down and have a couple of good games by making an impact.

“There is a lot of new stuff and I missed a lot of pre-season (through injury), so I’ve had to learn all the lineouts and structure but I think I am fitting in now.”

Wainwright only took up rugby at 17 after switching from being a football central midfielder.

The Bassaleg School pupil was swiftly picked up by the Dragons Under-18s and learnt in the WRU Championship last season with Cardiff Met, where he is studying sports science.

“I came to rugby late and I’ve still got lots to learn but I am just trying to improve every week,” said Wainwright, who played at Whiteheads RFC in Newport.

“It’s much easier to learn when you’ve got a bunch of experienced boys like this around you, helping you out each week.”

Wainwright was first involved in a matchday squad against Southern Kings at Rodney Parade but agonisingly didn’t get on the field, standing on the touchline with tracksuit off, ready to come on only for the clock to go into the red.

Instead he made his bow in the manic derby against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park before two starts in the Challenge Cup and an early call from the bench against Alun Wyn Jones & Co at the Liberty Stadium last Friday.

“My first bit of action was 10 minutes at the end against the Blues and it was really, really fast but really, really good,” said Wainwright.

“In the two full games against Newcastle and Enisei I was blowing a bit but wanted to work hard, then against the Ospreys I came on after 10 minutes and I felt more comfortable and that my fitness was up there.

“The pace was higher than the previous week in Russia but I think that I fitted in quite well and the work rate of the boys around me spurred me on.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this and when I got called up for the Kings game, even though I didn’t get on, it was just good to be involved.

“Going through the team run and being part of the routine of the matchday squad just makes you want to do it again the next week.”

With the Dragons still thin on the ground in the back row, the Cardiff Met student’s on-field education is set to continue apace.