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Gareth Davies – a player rejuvenated and now at ease with life despite Wales snub

13 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Gareth Davies celebrates scoring his sides third try against the Bulls Photo ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Simon Thomas

After more than a year away from the international stage, Gareth Davies is sending out a very timely reminder of just why he has 67 Wales caps to his name.

He hasn’t appeared for the national team since March 2022 and has missed out on the squads altogether this season. Having been a permanent fixture for the best part of a decade, it has been a new and unwanted experience, one which left him feeling despondent.

Yet the 32-year-old looks to have used his exclusion as motivation and has been a player rejuvenated of late. He’s been right back to his best and has been a key figure in the Scarlets turning round their season by winning 11 of their last 13 matches in all competitions.

Giving he was a key figure for Warren Gatland in the last two World Cup campaigns, you wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him being involved in France in the autumn.

Outstanding

His regional head coach Dwayne Peel – himself a former international scrum-half – is full of praise for the all-action No 9.

“I think he’s been outstanding, to be honest with you,” said the Scarlets boss.

“What I love about him is he’s a real competitor. That’s probably his biggest trait. You see him in training every day, he wants to compete, he wants to be the best. That’s a credit to him.

“He lost his spot in the Wales squad and I think he was pretty despondent for a while. I think that hurt him.

“With the conversations we’ve had, I think it’s a realisation for him that he needs to enjoy the last couple of years of his career.

“If he plays for Wales again – and I’m sure his form is good enough at the minute – then good on him, it will be great.

“If he doesn’t, then he’s obviously got close on 70 caps and has had a pretty good international career. He obviously wants to play for Wales again, that’s not a doubt. He’s competing hard and he’s enjoying his rugby. He’s at ease with a few things. I’m sure if he gets the opportunity to play for Wales again, he would be over the moon.

“The big thing is he’s performing every week. His contribution has been high every time. He keeps playing well and he’s putting himself in the frame, but as long as he’s enjoying his rugby I’m sure we will see the best of him.”

Work rate

Scarlets skipper Josh Macleod spends plenty of time in Davies’ company both on and off the field as they lift share back and fore to training, given they live about five minutes away from each other in Pembrokeshire.

“He’s class,” said the flanker. “His work-rate in defence is fantastic. He’s often in and around where I am in the defensive line and he’s sort of chatting away saying he’s going to fly with that interception thing he tries to do.

“His performances have really been driving us as a team. I certainly love to play alongside him. He’s definitely stepping up when he needs to.”

Having recorded back-to-back Challenge Cup knock-out victories over French clubs Brive and Clermont Auvergne over the past two weekends, the Scarlets will return to BKT URC action on Friday night when they travel to Glasgow.

Then comes a Judgement Day clash with the Dragons at the Principality Stadium in the final round of league action, followed by a rematch with Glasgow in the Challenge Cup semis, but this time at Parc y Scarlets. The revitalised Davies is sure to be a pivotal presence as the business end of the season looms.


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