Jonathan Davies: Wales centre ‘desperate’ to make 2023 World Cup – Pivac

Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 20 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary BBC Radio Cymru, updates on BBC Radio Wales.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac says centre Jonathan Davies is desperate to play in the 2023 World Cup after leaving him out against Australia.

Pivac has underlined Davies’ continued value despite denying him the chance of a 100th international appearance.

Following the injury to Alun Wyn Jones, Davies, 33, captained Wales against South Africa before being left out against Fiji and now Australia.

“He is the captain of this group since Alun Wyn Jones left,” said Pivac.

“That doesn’t change just because he is not playing. He has a big input off the field, he is a senior player. He understands that we always put the team first.

“As much as he wants to play, he understands the reasoning. We have spoken to Jonathan and he knows what is expected of him when he goes back to club rugby.

“He will want to get a run of games, as he did from the middle of the Six Nations (last season) on. He had three games, and if you looked at his performance against France in the number 12 jersey, it was outstanding.”

Saracens’ Nick Tompkins and Cardiff centre Willis Halaholo have been preferred by Pivac for the Wales midfield against Australia.

Davies has played 93 times for Wales and six Tests for the British and Irish Lions. A World Cup in France would be his third global tournament, when he would be 35.

“He knows we have got a World Cup that we are working back from, and he is desperate to play at that World Cup,” added Pivac.

“He believes he has got something to contribute and offer, otherwise I believe he would retire.

“Jonathan has got something to offer in our view, and that is why he’s in the squad. We will just have to wait and see how things pan out for the Six Nations.

“If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on Jonathan Davies walking away too soon.”

Pivac moved Davies into the inside centre role during the 2021 Six Nations success and that is where he sees his Wales future.

Scarlets have Johnny Williams and Scott Williams in that position, but Pivac hopes Davies can still get some exposure in the position.

“We know what Jonathan can do in the 12 jersey,” added Pivac.

“With the centre injuries, we pushed Jonathan to 13, but our intention was to play him at 12 before the squad came together.

“He has put the team first, and he is doing that again. He will go away, and we just hope he gets plenty of opportunities in the 12 jersey to show everyone what he can do.”

Pivac has made seven changes and one positional switch to face Australia as Wales bring the curtain down on a campaign ravaged by injuries.

The absence of injured Lions Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Ross Moriarty, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Leigh Halfpenny and George North has hampered the reigning Six Nations champions.

But the situation has also enabled another group of players to emerge on the international scene who otherwise might still be waiting for a Test match opportunity.

“Some players have performed very well, which has been a massive bonus for us,” added Pivac.

“Because the flip side of having no injuries is those players wouldn’t have been exposed, and maybe closer to the World Cup and during the World Cup we then get exposed and you have inexperienced players there.

“So it is helping us with a view of players and potential squads going forward – more information for us – which has been fantastic.

“If you look at some of the injuries, the unfortunate nature of the game, you can have bad luck. It is such a brutal sport these days.

“Players are bigger, fitter, faster, stronger and when they come together, the collisions in training believe you me are big enough, let alone in a game.

“It is the downside of the sport, but they do happen and we are just having a bad trot at the moment.

“I would like to think we have had ours now and we will come out the other side. Certainly, Six Nations time, we will be getting a lot more players back and that will make for healthy selection discussions.”

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