Clermont: Davies a perfect fit
Published 12/11/2013 | 09:11
Clermont Auvergne have described Wales star Jonathan Davies as a perfect fit for them after signing him on a two-year contract.
Davies, 25, will head to France next summer, joining fellow Wales internationals like Jamie Roberts, James Hook, Dan Lydiate, Luke Charteris and current Clermont full-back Lee Byrne in the Top 14.
The 37 times-capped Scarlets and British and Irish Lions centre has the option of a third season with Clermont, which could see him remain at Stade Marcel Michelin until 2017.
"We can only be delighted to welcome Jonathan," Clermont's sporting director Jean-Marc Lhermet told the club's official website .
"His profile fits perfectly to the game that we practise.
"Despite his young age, he has a huge experience of high-level matches and is one of the world's best players in his position. He will be an asset to our team.
"Jonathan decided to leave Wales for a new adventure , and we are happy that it is with the 'yellow and blue'.
"In addition to his class, he has determination to help us win new titles in the years to come."
Davies played for Wales in last Saturday's 24-15 defeat against South Africa, but he suffered a chest injury that forced him off early in the game.
Wales have already confirmed that Davies will miss their remaining autumn appointments with Argentina, Tonga and Australia as a result, while he could also be forced to sit out this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship if it is decided that he requires surgery.
He is due to link up with Clermont, last season's beaten Heineken Cup finalists, next July.
Davies' departure from the Welsh regional scene is a huge blow for both the Scarlets and the Welsh Rugby Union, with the regional teams battling to keep their leading players who are nearing the end of existing contracts.
Davies' form on the Lions tour to Australia this summer - he started all three Tests as the Lions recorded a first series triumph since 1997 - confirmed his status as one of European rugby's hottest properties.
And a move to France means that one of the Top 14 heavyweights have once again underlined their financial clout.
He will join a star-studded Clermont squad that contains players such as Aurelien Rougerie, Morgan Parra, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Wesley Fofana, with the brilliant France international Fofana likely to be Davies' midfield partner.
And Davies' departure will put into even sharper focus the futures of several Wales colleagues. Skipper Sam Warburton, full-back Leigh Halfpenny, prop Adam Jones and lock Alun-Wyn Jones are among those attracting considerable interest from abroad.
It is understood that the WRU has earmarked a £1million fund to help the regions keep their prize assets.
The Scarlets, meanwhile, will resume their Heineken Cup campaign next month with home and away fixtures against Clermont.
Scarlets chief executive Mark Davies said they had done everything in their power to keep the Wales star at the club but wished him the best in his new venture.
He said in a statement on the Scarlets website: "Jon has taken as much time as he could to consider each element of the tremendous opportunities available to him and has ultimately now had to make his decision on the best route for him as an individual at this point in his rugby career.
"Unfortunately for us that will result in Jon playing in France over the period of his next contract but we remain immensely proud of everything Jon has achieved with his region and completely respect his decision to extend his horizons and take this significant opportunity at this time.
"When we reach the end of the season, he will leave as a true Scarlet."
Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby added: "Jon has established himself in recent seasons as a world-class centre for Scarlets, Wales and now the British and Irish Lions.
"He has always taken great pride in having his rugby roots in west Wales and I know this will have been a tough decision for him personally, and probably one of head over heart.
"He will give his all in his last season with us I am sure and will lead from the front. But for now, our focus is to support Jon as he recovers from his injury and gets back to full fitness as soon as possible."