AARON Wainwright starts at the expense of his Dragons teammate Ross Moriarty in Wales’ World Cup opener against Georgia on Monday.

The flanker, who turns 22 next week, starts at blindside and joins forces with openside Justin Tipuric and number eight Josh Navidi in the back row.

Wainwright will win his 13th cap and forced his way into the XV thanks to some dynamic summer performances after being a replacement in the Six Nations Grand Slam, his exploits meaning Moriarty has to be content with being a supersub in Toyota City where he is joined by Dragons hooker Elliot Dee.

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"Aaron Wainwright is just a player that’s continued to improve," said head coach Warren Gatland.

"He’s incredibly athletic and an intelligent rugby player. He’s very inexperienced still but I think there’s only an upward curve for him as a player.

"I don’t think people realise how quick he is and how explosive he is.

"Since his first cap 12 months ago, he’s just gone from strength to strength.

"There’s some real competition in the back row and that’s the way we want it. We feel there’s a nice balance."

Skipper Alun Wyn Jones will equal Gethin Jenkins' Wales cap record of 129 appearances when he leads a strong team out as Gatland takes no risks against the Lelos.

Jones is joined by fellow British and Irish Lions Test players in Tipuric, full-back Liam Williams, wing George North, centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Ken Owens.

There is also a chance on the bench for fly-half Rhys Patchell, who has recovered from the concussion he suffered during Wales' final World Cup warm-up game against Ireland in Dublin two weeks ago.

Elsewhere, there is a start for Scarlets prop Wyn Jones, and Jake Ball is Alun Wyn Jones' second-row partner with Aaron Shingler providing lock cover among the replacements.

Squad locks Adam Beard and Cory Hill have targeted being available for the Australia game next weekend.

Beard has arrived in Toyota City after remaining at home to have his appendix removed last week, while Hill is recovering from a stress fracture to his leg.

"He did some scrums today and some running. The plan is to have him available for selection for next week," said Gatland about Hill.

"He’s making a lot of process and we’re very pleased with how that’s going. It’s a stress fracture and they take a lot of time.

"He’s said it’s improving every day. There is still a little bit of pain but it’s only mild to what he initially had."

After Georgia, Wales have a six-day turnaround before their Tokyo appointment with Australia that could decide which team wins Pool D.

And Monday's meeting will be Wales' first with Georgia since they posted an unconvincing 13-6 victory over them in Cardiff during the 2017 autumn Tests.

Wales go into the game after assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home from Japan earlier this week for an alleged breach of World Rugby's betting regulations.

Howley, 48, has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation relating to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation six, specifically betting on rugby union.

Former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones has replaced Howley on the coaching team, and was involved in his first training session on Saturday.

WALES: L Williams (Saracens); G North (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), J Adams (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Northampton), G Davies (Scarlets); W Jones (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Wainwright (Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues). Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), N Smith (Ospreys), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), R Moriarty (Dragons), T Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Patchell (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Scarlets).