Davies on course for Six Nations
Published 15/01/2014 | 04:37
British and Irish Lions Test centre Jonathan Davies appears firmly on course to play a part in Wales' RBS 6 Nations campaign.
The Scarlets star has not played since rupturing a pectoral muscle during Wales' defeat against South Africa more than two months ago.
It had been thought that Davies would miss the opening three Six Nations games against Italy, Ireland and France ahead of a possible playing return in early March.
But Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named the 25-year-old in his squad for the tournament, and said: "We don't think Jonathan is too far away."
Davies has become one of Wales' most consistent and influential performers, and it would be a huge boost for Gatland were he to be back playing ahead of schedule.
Gatland, meanwhile, will also need to run the rule over captain Sam Warburton, who has been sidelined in recent weeks due to a shoulder injury, while his fellow Blues forward Gethin Jenkins went off injured during last Saturday's Heineken Cup defeat against Toulon and Ryan Jones currently has a hamstring problem.
They have also been included among a 32-man Six Nations squad, together with centre Jamie Roberts, who missed this season's autumn internationals because of injury.
The squad contains 28 players who have been part of previous Six Nations-winning groups, with Gatland opting for a split of 13 backs and 19 forwards. Wales' opening game is at home against Italy on February 1.
"We've picked a pretty experienced squad and kept it fairly tight at this stage," Gatland said.
"There is a possibility we may add one or two players in. There are a few younger guys that need a bit of rugby, so we were keen for them to stay with the regions. Perhaps after the first couple of rounds when they have some more rugby under their belts, we may add them into the squad."
Gatland, meanwhile, says Wales will put the politics "to one side" in pursuit of an unprecedented Six Nations title hat-trick.
Welsh rugby is currently in the grip of a volatile political climate due to an ongoing dispute between the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales' four professional regions.
No participation agreement has yet been ratified between the WRU and Regional Rugby Union Wales, while there remains considerable contractual uncertainty surrounding several top players and where they will be playing next term.
"We know there are some politics going on at the moment, but we will put that to one side, come together as a group and focus on the rugby and what we can control," he said.
"We have got an opportunity to create history, and that is something we will focus on and something that will give us extra motivation.
"The Six Nations is always a tough competition. You need a little bit of luck and momentum, and that's why we need to start well against Italy first up."