Taylor Richards: James Davies’ Wales debut is well-overdue
Carmarthen born open side flanker – James Davies will make his well-overdue Wales debut on Sunday when they come up against a struggling Italian side.
James “Cubby” Davies is brother to British and Irish Lions player of the series – Jonathan Davies and has been on the brink of the Wales squad ever since winning a Rugby Sevens silver medal in Rio with team GB back in 2016.
After coming back to Llanelli with his medal, Davies’ game had improved massively and he was fast becoming the first name on the team sheet for the Scarlets. His work rate at the breakdown is second to none and his ability to turn the ball over in the jackal has been exceptional.
With the ball in hand he is very dangerous and his experience in sevens has allowed him to spot defensive gaps and always looks to play the ball wide at every attacking opportunity. His style of play is unique compared with the options Warren Gatland currently has in that position and it’s surprising it has taken so long for Davies to get a cap.
After winning the PRO 12 with the Scarlets last season, James Davies has gone from strength to strength and has become a key player for the region in their title defence season.
He made 23 turnovers and 196 tackles in 2016/2017 as well as scoring 3 tries including one in the final against Munster. He is already on 2 tries so far this season and has finally been rewarded for these performances with an opportunity to impress the Welsh coaches ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
There is so much competition for this position for Wales at the moment with the likes of Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins, Dan Lydiate and of course Sam Warburton, Davies will have to be on top of his game to warrant a place in the squad to face France next week and push on for a place in the World Cup squad.
His style of play is like no other and is a breath of fresh air for the Welsh supporters as they hope to see a more fluid and expansive game from the men in red. Davies has been integral to the way Scarlets have been playing and Gatland will be hoping this can rub off on the rest of the team, especially with such a strong attacking backline selected.
The 27-year-old will be looking to make a nuisance of himself at the breakdown and will be expected to turn the ball over at every opportunity, just like he has been doing for his region in the league and in Europe.
If he spots space in the Italian defence, don’t be surprised to see him race through and look for an offload or even a try to make it a debut to remember. “Cubby” has developed into a cult hero down at Parc y Scarlets and the West Wales faithful will be fully behind him as he earns his first cap, as will the rest of the country.