“Cubby Boi” is ready to roar for Wales and hunt down Six Nations opponents Italy
Scarlets flanker James Davies will make his Wales debut in Sunday’s NatWest 6 Nations encounter against Italy at the Principality Stadium.
James Davies is an Olympic silver medallist with major domestic title honours – but he has admitted to thoughts that playing for Wales was “never going to happen.”
At 27, Scarlets flanker Davies’ wait will end on Sunday when he runs out for Wales in their NatWest 6 Nations clash against Italy.
Many feel it is overdue recognition for a player whose consistently brilliant form for the Scarlets – especially when they won the Guinness PRO12 last season – would see him walk into many international teams.
Wales, though, possess rich back-row resources with the likes of Davies’ fellow openside specialists Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, so it has been a long time coming for one of Welsh rugby’s most colourful characters.
Nicknamed ‘Cubby Boi’ – his brother is Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan ‘Fox’ Davies – the tearaway number seven offers prodigious breakdown work, a punishingly-high tackle count and the handling and running skills of an outside back.
And a Six Nations audience will now have the chance to see what all the fuss is about as Davies sets out on a journey that could lead to next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Asked if he thought his Wales chance might never come, he said: “Of course you do.
“I felt like I have played consistently but I have not been getting that chance, so you do think it’s never going to happen. But we are here now, and I have got that chance, and I want to take it with both hands.
“It was frustrating, but I have tried to just keep working on what I need to do a bit better. Now, the coaches have changed their minds. Maybe I have convinced a few others, and now I have got my opportunity.
“At the end of the day, my game was suitable for the Scarlets, so I would never change it for personal gain, for a cap. I do what I do for my team, and that was good for the Scarlets.
“I am not the kind of person that needs a tap on the backside or someone to say ‘chin up’. I just get on with the job.”
Davies revelled in the 2016 Rio Olympics environment, helping Great Britain reach the rugby sevens gold medal match against Fiji, and he feels that training sessions as a sevens specialist served him well.
“Having been in the sevens environment, the training for the Rio Olympics was probably the hardest I have done,” he added.
“Because of that, you know you can go to the very edge and come out the other end. It’s been tough (training with Wales), but really enjoyable.
🗣️ "He could just turn out to be the star of this year's #NatWest6Nations"@WelshRugbyUnion's @aaronshingler has lived up to his billing during Rugby's Greatest Championship so far ➡️ https://t.co/4PJpacJDjA pic.twitter.com/myk2htuC6x— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 8, 2018
“I am not stupid. I enjoy myself, but I wasn’t going to come in here and hack off all the coaches. I knew I had to be adaptable coming into this environment. I have done that and maybe changed a few people’s opinion of my character.”
Davies says his brother is “absolutely chuffed” with the Wales call-up – “he’s off on holiday next week, so I think he was glad I got my opportunity this week, not next week,” Davies added – but there has been no reaction yet from Desmond the dog.
Davies bought the collie-cross a few weeks ago, and he said: “He’s kept me busy. Basically, he’s just a farm dog. I might set up Pontcanna farm in Cardiff and get some sheep for him to round up.
“I quite like the name. I call him Des when he’s a good boy and Desmond when he’s naughty.”