CARDIFF – Jonathan Davies believes Wales are basking in success based on unheralded strength in depth as his side head into Saturday’s Test against South Africa gunning for a first-ever autumn clean sweep.
Centre Davies has recovered from a foot injury sustained against Australia in last year’s November Tests in time to hit prime form in the run-in to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and said the competition for places was greater than ever.
Wales are on an eight-match winning streak, having seen off Scotland (21-10), Australia (9-6) and Tonga (74-24) so far in November, before hosting the Springboks at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
“The strength in depth is great at the moment,” said Davies, voted Man of the Series for the British and Irish Lions in their drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.
“There is a lot of competition in training, there is no complacency, and we’ve recognised the importance of how we prepare to play at the weekend.
“At the moment, it’s all good. The squad is great to be a part of, and that’s why we’re having a fair bit of success at the moment.”
Davies insisted that there wasn’t extra pressure going into the final match of the calendar year before a testing Six Nations, with one eye firmly fixed on the World Cup.
“There is a lot expected of the squad these days,” the 30-year-old said.
Turning to his injury, Davies added: “It’s been a long break away and it’s just been nice to come back in, work hard, and get the opportunity to play for my country again.
“I’ve enjoyed being in the squad and it’s been a lot of fun. Winning obviously helps.”
Davies admitted that his absence from the paddock had given him a new perspective.
“I’ve had long-term injuries before, so I’m well accustomed to coming back. But I do feel when you’ve been away from the game for a long time, you do have more appreciation for it,” he said.
The centre, who played two seasons for Clermont in the French Top 14 before rejoining Scarlets, played down the fact that Wales might be passing by unnoticed despite being ranked third in the world.
“Potentially we are going under the radar, but we are concentrating on what we need to execute on the weekend,” he said.
A lot has happened in the year since Hadleigh Parkes scored two tries on debut for Wales against South Africa.— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 23, 2018
He tells WRU TV all about it, as he prepares to face the Boks again this weekend. #WALvRSA pic.twitter.com/zI7NNJLIPZ
“We work as a collective group to get those victories. If no one talks about us, it doesn’t really affect us – I don’t think the boys are crying out for attention!”
The Springboks, Davies added, will be tough opponents on Saturday despite having lost their last three encounters against the Welsh.
“You look at their performances over the last 12 months, they have certainly improved a lot,” he said.
“They ran New Zealand close. They are extremely physical, and it potentially will be a lot tougher task than the last few times we have played against them.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland said there had been no need for extra motivational talk with a first-ever autumn clean sweep of matches up for grabs.
“I haven’t had to say anything,” the Kiwi said. “It’s like when you play the last game of a Six Nations for a Grand Slam. There is no lack of motivation for that.
“It hasn’t been done before and a clean sweep in the autumn would be pretty special. They are very well aware of what that means.”AFP