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Davies 'ready to make Wales return'

Jonathan Davies came through a 40-minute return appearance for Scarlets unscathed and could rejoin the Wales squad ahead of next Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland, according to head coach Simon Easterby.

The centre, who suffered a pectoral tear playing for Wales against South Africa in November, was withdrawn at half-time after putting in a solid performance in his side's 29-10 LV= Cup defeat to London Irish.

Scarlets boss Easterby said: "It was always our intention to give him 40 or 50 minutes and it looked like he was fatiguing a little bit and that was his call but he was pretty happy with the work he got through.

"He's fine. He's been out for such a long time so he's going to be a little bit rusty but it was a good hit-out for him.

"It certainly wasn't a game where you could hold back. It was full on and they were pretty physical."

Easterby will talk to the Welsh camp before the decision is taken on the next move for Davies, who has made a quicker-than-expected return.

The Scarlets boss said: "That's a discussion we'll have probably (on Sunday) and then make a joint call on that.

"He's been released back from the Welsh camp to us so I would have thought he will go back into the Welsh camp on Monday.

"But whether he'll be involved with the Welsh team next weekend is down to him and down to our medical team and their medical team to see exactly where he's at in terms of his return to playing."

Easterby, whose side conceded five tries in the "dead rubber" match, said: "We probably had a first half to forget and they took full advantage of that and scored four first-half tries."

Admitting he "couldn't really repeat" what he said to the players at half-time, he added: "The second half we played a little bit better."

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith described the withdrawal of Australian star James O'Connor with a tight hamstring just before kick-off as "merely a precaution".

He expects the full-back - bound for Toulon at the end of the season - to be fit to face Saracens next Saturday.

Smith said: "To have scored four tries by half-time was pleasing but we would have liked to have done a bit more damage in the second half."

His only disappointment was seeing South African prop CJ Van der Linde limp off with a calf injury 20 minutes into his first start for the club.

But, for the fourth week running in the Anglo-Welsh group games, Smith had substituted his entire front row and half-back pair by the start of the second half.

He said: "You either rest players or keep them ticking over to make sure everyone's getting game time.

"We don't have a 50-man squad and we've got some significant long-term injuries so the policy has served us well because we've managed to keep them in some sort of form."

Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary did the damage early on and Smith added: "The reason we scored four tries in the first half was because Tomas was setting a great pace at the breakdown.

"He's the heartbeat of our side."

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