Jonathan Davies Says Old Partner Jamie Roberts Can Still Return For Wales

Jonathan Davies. Two reasons to celebrate. Pic: Getty Images.

Jonathan Davies Says Old Partner Jamie Roberts Can Still Return For Wales

Jonathan Davies isn’t giving up on reaching his half-century of Test starts in the Welsh midfield with Jamie Roberts.

Davies may now be the star attraction in the Welsh side following his great performances with the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand in the summer, culminating in a drawn series and him being named as the Lions’ player of the series, but he still feels there is a future for the 93 cap Roberts.

There may be evidence of Wales moving away from the crash ball tactics that made Roberts the focal point of the attack, the Harlequins centre is much more than a one-trick pony. If he hadn’t been he would never have survived to reach 93 caps and play on two Lions tours.

It was probably more of a question of time catching up with Roberts when he was omitted from the Wales squad for the 2017 Under Armour Series this month. Owen Watkin and Tyler Morgan have quicker, more youthful legs, if not the guile and experience of one of Wales’ greatest back line servants.

But Davies has warned against writing off his old pal ahead of the 2019 World Cup and he wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a re-call.

“It is strange not having Jamie around. Nearly every squad I have been involved in, he has been in it,” admitted Davies.

“We’ve played a lot of rugby together and, from where we started, and the questions people raised about us not being able to play together, I think we’ve showed we have a pretty decent record.

“It’s not over for Jamie, this will spur him on now to make sure he performs for his club. With the Six Nations around the corner, if you put in big performances in the Champions Cup, you put your hand up for the squad.

“We are widening the player base in and around the back line moving forward to 2019 and the competition is fierce. Scott Williams is back in now, so it is a new challenge, and now it is making sure I’m developing relationships with the new faces in the squad.

Jamie Roberts. Pic: Getty Images.

“I’m not quite the senior partner yet – Rhys Priestland is back and he is now the eldest back. Hadleigh Parkes is older than me, but I’m getting up there, although luckily I don’t look as old as some!”

With 63 Welsh caps to his name, two highly successful British & Irish Lions Test series to look back on, including being named as the Lions man of the series in New Zealand in the summer, Davies might not want to be considered the senior citizen, but he is one of the star acts.

But with Roberts looking on from the outside this month it will fall on Davies to nurture some of the younger players in the new-look Welsh squad, like his Scarlets team mate Steff Evans and Ospreys centre Owen Watkin.

“It has been good, a breath of fresh air, with the new boys coming in full of energy and looking to stake their claim. It is good for competition,” added Davies.

“It just shows they’ve had their opportunity, and they have taken it, and none more so than Steff. He deserves the call-up because he has been in outstanding form at the Scarlets.

“If he is picked to play, we will have to make sure we get him the ball to him as much as we can. I’m also looking forward to working with Owen more in the next few weeks.

“He’s good. He hasn’t had much rugby this year, but he seems to be up to speed and he showed some nice touches against Clermont and at Saracens.

“There are going to be some new faces in the 23 for our first game against Australia. We want to get our new style going and get tempo into our game.

Steff Evans won his first Wales caps in the summer. Pic: Getty Images.

“With 2019 just around the corner a good Autumn would propel us confidently into the Six Nations and help us to build momentum. We are looking for some big results in this campaign.

“It all starts with Australia. Yes, we haven’t beaten them for a long time, but with the talent we’ve got in this squad we can be very competitive and get the results we want.

“Traditionally we have been slow starters in the Autumn and have got better as the series goes on. Our sole focus is making sure we get this week right and we hit the ground running in week one.

“We don’t want to wait until week two or three to really hit our straps. It’s a big ask, but the boys have reacted well in training and have really trained hard.”

The Wallabies will arrive boosted by their Bledisloe Cup win over New Zealand and buoyed by a nine try demolition of Japan at the weekend. They will be seeking a 13th successive win over Wales and, as ever, won’t be short on confidence or strike power, even without Israel Folau in their side.

“If you look back the last couple of years, there has been disappointment after the Australia games. It is a challenge for us to make sure that we get the work done on and off the field that’s needed to make sure we are prepared and up to speed,” added Davies.

“The advantage that the teams have coming over here is that they have just come off a tournament and have been together for months. It is difficult for us and we need to make sure we keep building.

“We’ve been very close to beating them a few times, but they are a quality team and you have to give them credit. They are very smart and they take their opportunities.

“If you look at last year’s game, they created three or four chances and they scored. For us, it’s making sure that we are defensively all on the same page and make sure we create pressure and put them under pressure.

“If you are too passive, these southern hemsiphere teams just pick you off. The big thing for us is creating that pressure.”

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