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Davies aiming to stake a claim for Lions place after early head injury setback

By Jack de Menezes

Jonathan Davies will get his first full chance to claim a place in the British and Irish Lions Tests against the All Blacks this weekend after having his opening audition cut shot by a nasty blow to the head, something that he has had to deal with for the first time, and he hopes to show Warren Gatland what he can bring by adding a new dimension to the touring party.

Davies was unlucky to suffer a blow to the head on a crash ball during the victory over the Crusaders last weekend just short of the 30-minute mark.

The Wales centre, playing in his first game of the tour, initially looked like he would be fit to continue, but after being pulled off for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), a failure to answer the questions correctly meant he could not return.

Having completed the protocols required to return to action over the last few days, Davies has been named for the game with the Maori All Blacks in an exciting centre partnership outside Ben Te'o that looks likely to start the first Test on 24 June.

"It's gone pretty smoothly," Davies said. "It's my first experience of that and everything's fine. The medical team has taken care of me and I trained this morning.

"I passed the questions that were asked when I first got up, and then they said they wanted to have a second look at me and it was just a case of trying to get it done as quickly as possible."

The one silver lining is that the outside centre shirt would appear wide open. While Davies was the pre-tour favourite for the shirt, his injury, combined with Jonathan Joseph's impressive showing in the 23-22 defeat by the Highlanders, means that Gatland has plenty to ponder for the first Test.

Davies, though, brings plenty of aspects to his game that Joseph does not. He has previous Lions experience and he hopes to provide part in disrupting the New Zealand offload game that has given the Lions so many issues in their games against Super Rugby opposition.

"If you look at some of the oppositions' offloading they love to keep the ball alive but sometimes sacrifice accuracy in those offloads," Davies explained.

"Win the collision, make sure that you're going forward and then looking to offload. I think that they'll (New Zealand) look to offload even if they're going backwards sometimes."

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