Jonathan Davies believes Wales are paying the price for the country’s late return to rugby after lockdown.
The Wales and Lions centre – a keystone of Warren Gatland’s successful team for over a decade – is currently part of a national team that has suffered six straight defeats under Wayne Pivac.
Davies has conceded that Wales are playing poorly at present, but the 32-year-old also considers part of the reason for the poor showing is Welsh rugby’s comparative slowness in returning to action.
While players in the Gallagher Premiership in England finished the 2019-20 season, the Welsh regions found themselves without rugby as the previous Guinness Pro 14 campaign was drastically curtailed.
It means that while players based with English clubs played 10 games between August 15 and October 3, those with the Welsh regions managed just three.
“After the long, long break we had over Covid-19, I think we’ve been slow out of the blocks,” said Davies.
“We were late coming back to regional rugby and the international game as well.
“Traditionally, the longer we spend together, the better we get and we are seeing improvements in certain areas.
“We are not quite there yet with the product as a whole and the focus has to stay on working together to make sure we deliver higher standards. We need to keep building as a unit together.”
Wales coach Wayne Pivac is desperate for a victory following defeat to Ireland in the opening match of the Autumn Nations Cup on Friday night, but he has already committed to ringing the changes for Saturday’s next match against Georgia on Saturday in Llanelli.
Davies, who has struggled with injuries since the World Cup a year ago, admits there is plenty of room for improvement but has insisted Pivac and his coaching assistants still have the players’ full backing.
Asked in the players were still behind his former regional coach at the Scarlets, Davies added: “Yes of course.
“We enjoy preparing the plan he wants in the week, it’s just at the moment we need to make sure we’re delivering on a game day.
“There has been a bit of change, but the change has been in a positive way. We need to make sure all the work we put in during the week comes to fruition. Our frustration levels are extremely high because we are not delivering that.
“We feel there was an improvement, but nowhere near where we want to be or where we can be.”
Adding to the woe Davies himself went off against Ireland with an injury to his right knee – he tore the cruciate ligament in his left knee at the World Cup.
“It’s still a bit early doors at the moment, but I have to make sure I look after it now,’ he said.
“I don’t know if I’m fortunate or not, but I have been through a tough patch previously.
“This is the first time a lot of the boys have had a run of losses and performances we haven’t been happy with.
“This is character building and come the next opportunity we get, it’s important we get a win. When we get a win and a run of form, it will all be forgotten.”