WARREN Gatland says lock Cory Hill will be a leader for Wales against Scotland after handing the Dragons captain his first Six Nations start.

The 25-year-old will line up next to skipper Alun Wyn Jones in the boilerhouse for the tournament opener versus the Scots at Principality Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).

Hill wore 4 on his back in the absence of the injured Jake Ball against South Africa in the autumn finale and keeps his place ahead of in-form Ospreys forward Bradley Davies.

The Dragons skipper has won 10 caps since being a surprise selection in the autumn of 2016 and will add to his Six Nations appearances that were made off the bench against Italy and England last year.

Hill’s performances on the Test stage and his work ethic in the Vale Resort headquarters have seen him climb the pecking order to now be a regular on Wales teamsheets – and a member of the leadership group along with seasoned campaigners Jones, Scott Williams, Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar.

“We have been pleased with Cory,” said head coach Gatland. “He has been one of the most improved players in Welsh rugby over the last couple of seasons.

“He has gone from a fringe player in the squad who got a couple of opportunities to one that has developed into not just a good rugby player but a leader around the squad, and calling lineouts.

“We have been really pleased with his development and think he will only get better.

“Bradley is on the bench and his rugby has improved over the last couple of months with the Ospreys and we are pleased with experience on the bench to come on.”

Hill is joined in the matchday squad by Dragons hooker Elliot Dee, who is back-up to Lions front rower Ken Owens.

The 23-year-old from Newbridge made his Test debut against Georgia in November and made a second substitute appearance in the victory against the Springboks. He is handed the 16 jersey ahead of Ospreys rival Scott Baldwin.

Wing Hallam Amos, who has been out of action since suffering an ankle injury against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day, misses out but Dragons-bound Ross Moriarty is a surprise inclusion at number eight.

The Gloucester man has only recently returned from a back problem but gets the nod as the replacement for the injured Taulupe Faletau, joining forces with Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi with Lions openside Justin Tipuric having to settle for a place on the bench.

“We know what a quality player Ross is, it's great he is back and available and we are looking forward to seeing his explosive ball carrying on Saturday,” said Gatland.