Jonathan Davies: Wales centre back in the red after year out through injury

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Jonathan Davies has scored 16 tries in 81 internationals for Wales
Jonathan Davies has scored 16 tries in 81 internationals for Wales

It is the sight all Wales fans wanted. Centre Jonathan Davies wearing that special red shirt again.

He might for now just be modelling the new national jersey but the Welsh faithful will hope the British and Irish Lions star is back on the field in the coming weeks.

It was almost a year ago Davies was stood out on the pitch alone at the stadium in Yokohama gazing out, having a poignant moment to himself.

That followed the bronze medal match defeat to New Zealand, the second game Davies played with a heavily strapped knee following the semi-final defeat to South Africa.

Davies had suffered the injury in the pool victory over Fiji and was forced out of the quarter-final win against France.

So that All Blacks defeat at the beginning of November 2019 was the last time Davies wore the Wales shirt. He was determined it would happen again.

“For everybody in the Welsh game growing up you want to represent your country,” said Davies.

“I have been fortunate to be able to do it a few times. It’s always a goal when you get injured to get back to the level you were or improve.

“Whoever has had a taste of international rugby wants to do it again. It is about making sure I kept working hard and deserve a place in the team and squad.”

Waiting game

It has been a long recovery road. Almost 11 months in fact.

“The type of surgery was a bit of a waiting game,” said Davies.

“I had to keep my knee dead straight for 12 weeks and there was a scan at that point to see how that had gone.

“With all the other operations that I had, you know you have had repaired when you are in the hospital bed and stitched back up.

“But for this one, you hoped your body would adapt and help itself and recover. Thankfully it did and since that point it’s been good and I am happy with my rehab programme and everything has gone well.”

That rehab has been done during a challenging period of lockdown.

“I was fortunate, the Scarlets were good and got me some equipment. I have a squat rack in my kitchen and a watt bike in my lounge so I was flying,” said Davies.

Jonathan Davies in action for Wales against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup
Jonathan Davies in action for Wales against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup

“I was able to progress my rehab so when we were able to come back into training, I wasn’t as bad as I could have been.

“I feel as if I am going in the right direction. The knee feels good, it is just about working hard and trying to get back where I was before the injury and push on again. There is work to be done.”

Davies completed his recovery with a friendly appearance against Ospreys and competitive matches against Munster and Glasgow while being named in Wayne Pivac’s 38-man squad.

This Covid-19 bubble camp will be different even for somebody who has won two Grand Slams and played six British and Irish Lions tests and made his international debut in 2009.

“There are some stricter protocols with the forms you have to fill in online and having temperature checks and all that,” the centre added.

“It is nice being around the boys and getting that feeling of the international buzz again although the fundamentals are slightly different.

“We have to make sure we act responsibly and try and look after each other.”

French test

The first test comes against France in a warm-up match in Paris on 24 October before the rearranged Six Nations match against Scotland seven days later at Parc y Scarlets. There are fears over the fixture with the deteriorating Covid-19 situation and a row between the clubs and French union about the release of players for the game.

“We just have to focus on ourselves and prepare as well as we can,” said former Clermont centre Davies.

“We are using it as a warm-up game. On the travelling part we know the WRU will get things done to make sure we are well looked after correctly when we travel through airports and things like that.

“I am sure they will sort it out in France sooner rather than later.”

Jonathan Davies was named Lions man of the series against New Zealand in 2017
Jonathan Davies was named Lions player of the series against New Zealand in 2017

That will be followed by the Autumn Nations Cup with Wales facing Ireland, Georgia and England in their group.

“It’s an exciting format and will be a great experience for the new players,” said Davies.

“This new competition will tell us where we’re at as a team and we’ve got a tough group.”

At the end of a busy season, Davies could have the chance to wear another red jersey. The 32-year-old aims to complete the Lions set by touring South Africa after playing in all the Test matches in Australia in 2013 and New Zealand four years later.

“It would be special to go on the tour,” said Davies.

“First of all I have to concentrate on playing well for the Scarlets, and I have an opportunity now to train with Wales and hopefully I’ll be able to play in the matches.

“I have to make sure I work hard and hopefully things will go in my favour. I have to prove myself all over again.”

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