Gatland focus on Davies’ career

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland has put an emphasis on centre Jonathan Davies’ “long-term career” after the Clermont Auvergne star suffered World Cup heartache.

Davies has been ruled out of Wales’ World Cup campaign later this year due to a serious knee injury.

The 27-year-old was hurt playing for Clermont against Top 14 opponents Montpellier last Saturday, and he now faces surgery to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Davies, who has won 48 caps and played in all three Tests for the Gatland-coached 2013 British and Irish Lions against Australia, is expected to face a lay-off of six to seven months.

He would have been an integral part of Gatland’s World Cup squad, with his midfield partnership alongside Jamie Roberts proving to be a bedrock of recent Wales’ successes.

And his absence from the tournament that starts in September is a major setback.

In a statement released by the Welsh Rugby Union, Gatland said: “It’s a disappointment for Jonathan and for us, but the advice is for him to have the surgery straight away.

“Obviously, the injury rules him out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but our focus is his long-term career.

“And we will be working closely with him during his recovery, looking towards the 2016 RBS 6 Nations.”

The WRU added that there had been “constant dialogue” between their own medical team and Clermont’s.

Clermont said on their official club website that Davies was hurt in the 33rd minute of the league game against Montpellier and went off just after half-time. Clermont won the match 29-17.

The French club said that an examination had revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Experienced Scarlets centre Scott Williams would be the obvious replacement for Davies in Gatland’s starting line-up.

Gatland is due to announce a World Cup training squad on June 8, with Wales preparing for a demanding campaign that sees them in the same pool as England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

Wales’ opening World Cup fixture is against Uruguay in Cardiff on September 20, with the key England and Australia matches both taking place at Twickenham. They will prepare for the tournament with warm-up encounters against Ireland (home and away), plus Italy.

Williams apart, Gatland is also set to look closely at the merits of young centres like Cory Allen and Tyler Morgan as the World Cup countdown gathers pace.

Wales announced on Wednesday that uncapped 19-year-old Newport Gwent Dragons prospect Morgan has been withdrawn from Wales’ squad for the forthcoming World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, and that he will be included in the senior World Cup training group.

Morgan, who signed a national dual contract earlier this season, was part of Wales’ 2015 Six Nations squad.

“We are delighted to have a player of Tyler’s calibre and potential to call on,” Gatland said.

“It is unfortunate that he will miss out on the World Rugby U20 Championship, but the decision we have taken now will give him the chance to focus entirely on this opportunity.”

Davies, though, has been one of Wales’ most consistent performers during recent seasons, providing a powerful midfield presence in attack and defence.

He made his Wales debut in 2009 and was a pivotal member of teams that won successive Six Nations titles in 2012 and 2013.

That form was rewarded with Lions selection, and Davies made an outstanding contribution as the Lions claimed a 2-1 series triumph.

Davies left the Scarlets to join Clermont last year, helping them reach this season’s European Champions Cup final at Twickenham, where they lost to Toulon, while his club are also currently involved in the Top 14 title play-offs.

Published: Thursday 28th May 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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