POWERHOUSE prop Leon Brown wants to climb back up the Wales pecking order in World Cup year by hitting the form with the Dragons that first caught Warren Gatland's eye.

The 22-year-old from Maesglas was a member of the Six Nations squad but did not feature in the Grand Slam.

Brown suffered a broken right thumb against Leinster in December – the latest blow after a concussion against New Zealand in November, 2017 and a broken toe in March, 2018 – but was still selected alongside Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis and Samson Lee.

The trio's exploits mean that the strong-running Dragons tighthead, who won caps against Scotland and Tonga in the autumn, faces a struggle to be a member of Warren Gatland's 31-strong squad for Japan 2019.

However, there will be twists and turns ahead and five-times capped Brown just wants to enjoy a strong finish to the season that would earn the chance to stake a claim in the World Cup preparations.

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"I didn't train the first few weeks in Six Nations camp so was just running and trying to get my thumb right. When I was fit the boys were on fire and I hadn't had much game time," said the front-rower, who made his return against Ulster in March.

"The Six Nations was a good experience. I am still learning and I was happy to be involved and be able to cheer the boys on.

"At the moment I have had a bit of a stinker with injuries. I just want to play as much rugby as I can and try to hit the form that saw me get my first cap last season. I've got to concentrate on playing rugby and staying fit.

"Hopefully I can put a couple of good performances in now, turn a few heads and see where it goes."

Brown's first start since facing Tonga was against the Ospreys in the last round of the Guinness PRO14 but it didn't go to plan against Nicky Smith, one of his sparring partners in Six Nations camp.

"The Ospreys game was tough," he admitted. "Obviously I knew a bit about Nicky having trained against him and with him. He had the better of me on the day, but I can only get better for that experience.

"He is a quality loosehead but obviously it was quite disappointing. I set high standards so I need to get better."

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Brown will attempt to achieve that on the Dragons' double-header in South Africa when they attempt to end their four-year away drought in the PRO14.

They take on the Cheetahs next weekend but first up is Sunday's clash with the Kings, who hammered them 45-13 in Port Elizabeth last season.

"It's a big challenge in South Africa. I was lucky enough to go out last year and it was a good trip but maybe we weren't as dialled in as we should have been," said Brown.

"This time the boys are right on it. You have got to enjoy it, it is not every day you get to go out to South Africa, but we are fully focused on the two games and getting the two wins.

"We need to be on top up front. We know the Kings like a loose game and we can't give them that. Our lineout and scrum has to be in order."