Sunday 9 December 2018

Olympian 'cubby' gains overdue recognition

The Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: Getty
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: Getty

James Davies may already have won an Olympic silver medal but the 27-year-old younger brother of Wales star Jonathan is still yet to realise his childhood dream.

All that will finally will finally change at the Principality Stadium tomorrow when the experienced Scarlets flanker will make what many believe to be a long-overdue international debut in the 15-a-side code after starring for GB Sevens during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Davies, or 'Cubby Boi' as he is affectionately known in reference to his older brother's nickname 'Foxy', only made his 15-a-side debut for Scarlets four years ago but such have been the quality of his performances, it has been baffling as to why his first cap has taken so long. Perhaps Josh Navidi's performances so far in the Six Nations, in place of injured Sam Warburton, have gone some way to explaining that conundrum but few who have watched Davies excel for his region doubt he will thrive the international stage.

"As a rugby player in Wales I didn't grow up dreaming about the Olympics because it wasn't an Olympic sport then. Your dream was to play for Wales and, hopefully, I will go on the pitch on Sunday fit, play well and achieve that dream," he said. "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. I want to take it with both hands."

With Warren Gatland making 10 changes to his starting line-up to the side that lost to Ireland, Davies has a chance to state his case for a World Cup spot next year.

Former Italy scrum half Paul Griffen described Gatland's selection as "disrespectful" although three Lions in George North, Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric return to the starting XV.

Wales v Italy,

Live, TV3/BBC 1, tomorrow 3.0

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