Grieving Davies looks to honour mother with Irish win
WIN or lose against Ireland this Saturday, Welsh second-row Bradley Davies, while ready to give his all to the cause, knows there are more important things than a game of rugby football.
Three weeks ago, Davies' mother Cheryl died aged 46. It was a devastating blow for the family and the 23-year-old has spoken of the "massive boost" he has received from the support of his team-mates, the Wales management team and the public.
Davies, with the backing of coach Warren Gatland, made his first Six Nations start against France and put in an excellent performance as Wales narrowly failed to overturn Les Bleus at the Millennium Stadium.
"Warren phoned me and offered me some support and said I could start against France if I wanted to, if I was up to it," said Bradley. "That gave me and my family a massive boost.
"They said go out and play. The build-up in the week of the game was tough, but the boys were awesome. They made me feel wanted and really picked me up. In the end, I wanted to go training. It was where I wanted to be. It was tough to stay in the house and cry."
If the past few hugely emotional weeks have helped Davies put things in context, so too have the recent experiences of his younger brother Miles in the armed forces.
"He's just come back from a 12-month tour of Afghanistan and he did eight months in Iraq as well," revealed Davies. "It just puts it in perspective what kind of a job I've got compared to him."
The comfort and support Davies has received over the past few weeks has left him with a deep sense of gratitude and a determination to build on that performance in honour of his mother.
"I'm glad I put a performance together (against France) and I want to build on that now. It's done wonders for my confidence. I've always believed in myself. Maybe some people didn't believe in me, but Warren has been awesome. I've put my marker down now and I want to keep playing and improving."
On Saturday, Davies will be winning his ninth cap and faces Ireland's formidable Munster second-row pairing of Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell.
"It's a big challenge. They are two world-class players. They have played for the Lions, they've won the Heineken Cup, they won the Grand Slam last year, so they are top performers," said the Cardiff second-row. "It will be a big test for myself, but there's going to be a big crowd in Dublin and I can't wait to get stuck in."