Amos & Co can’t believe Davies is not award contender
HALLAM Amos spoke for the Wales camp when he expressed his surprise Lionking Jonathan Davies didn’t make World Rugby’s short-list for its top award.
Warren Gatland’s squad and management was baffled the centre, who was British and Irish rugby’s official player of the series during the drawn Test series with world champions New Zealand a few months ago, wasn’t among the five nominees to be world player of the year.
England pair Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje, who failed to make Gatland’s Lions starting line-up for the opening Test with the Blacks, Kiwi pair Beauden Barrett and Rieko Ioane and Australia’s Israel Folau were selected by a panel of former rugby stars with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner in Monaco on November 26.
Davies has had a golden year, hitting form in the Six Nations and being a leading light as the Scarlets ran their way to the Guinness PRO12 title.
And he was the Lions’ best attacker and defensive rock as they defied the pundits and public expectation to tie the series 1-1 with the All Blacks after winning the second Test and drawing the decider.
But the panel assembled by World Rugby failed to see it the same way and the 29-year-old, who will miss the remainder of the autumn Test series and next year’s Six Nations after needing surgery on the complicated foot injury he suffered during the 29-21 loss to Australia in Cardiff at the weekend, didn’t make the short-list.
“Injury is part and parcel of rugby but it was gutting for him. He’s come off a strong year and was unlucky not to be nominated for world player of the year,” declared Davies’ Wales team-mate Amos.
“He’s been on fire for us, the Lions and the Scarlets,” pointed out the wing or full-back, before predicting: “He’s a strong individual who I’m sure he will come back even stronger.”
Amos dived over for a spectacular touchdown against Australia after having one ruled out against them in the same corner a year earlier.
But he confided: “It was nice to get a try but it wasn’t one of the most important I’ve scored.
“It really showed it’s a game of inches because last year I was in touch and this time I wasn’t. I thought I had got the ball down but I was conscious I may have been in touch so didn’t celebrate too much.
“You want to score tries. The problem with wing is there’s always some youngster coming through and, if they have got pace, will always be talked about but it’s great for the team there’s competition for places.
“Steff Evans has been on fire this year and we have got four Lions fighting to get in the back three when everyone is fit. That drives standards. Come game-time you have to play well or you may not get picked again.”
It was the Wallabies’ 13th win in a row over Wales, with Amos acknowledging: “It wasn’t the result we wanted.
“It was a shame we couldn’t break the spell Australia hold over us but we are going into this weekend against Georgia confident there’s a good game-plan in place. We were quite positive after the game on Saturday.
“We have tried to play with width for a few years. It helps having Owen Williams, who is a No.10, at inside centre because he has got great vision. We saw elements of that against Australia.
“There was definitely the shoots of a new system coming in. It’s better for back-three players. The likes of Steff and Liam Williams had their hands on the ball a bit more, which is what we want to see.”
Wales face a Georgia team that thrashed Kingsley Jones’ Canada last weekend at the Principality Stadium on Saturday with Tests to follow against New Zealand and South Africa.
“Georgia get a bad rap with people talking about their big pack but they also have some good players along their back-line and bring a kicking game,” warned 12-times capped Amos.
“They scored off a cross-kick against Canada. It will be a different challenge to Australia but we can’t take them lightly and we will definitely go in fully focused to follow our systems.
“It was the same with Uruguay at the 2015 World Cup. It was their World Cup final and this will be the same for Georgia.
“Playing at the Principality Stadium will be an incredible experience for them. They will be really fired up and we have to deal with that.
“We don’t want to still be in a dogfight at 60 minutes. A good start will be a key for us. It’s a massive game.
“I think there will be a few changes this week but we can’t let the occasion get to few of our inexperienced players.”
The 23-year-old, who is half-way through a nine-year course to become a doctor, has just finished doing neurology and psychiatry at Cardiff’s University of Wales Hospital.
But he’s unable to work out which position Wales coach Warren Gatland sees him settling down in, whether it’s at wing, full-back or centre, where he played as a youngster.
“Full-back is probably still my favourite position but I don’t know long-term where the guys at the top see me,” said Amos.
> Hallam Amos touched down for his late try against Australia on Saturday