CAT­A­LOGUE OF WOE, BUT CUBBY KEEPS IT IN PER­SPEC­TIVE

Llanelli Star - - GUINNESS PRO14 -

JAMES Davies had the world at this feet last June fol­low­ing back-to-back man-of-the-match per­for­mances as Wales beat Ar­gentina.

But the 28-year-old flanker has only made eight ap­pear­ances this sea­son for the Scar­lets fol­low­ing a cat­a­logue of in­juries and missed this week­end’s clash with Ze­bre through an­other knock.

You’d ex­pect any player, even some­body as laid back as the 2016 Rio Olympics Sevens sil­ver medal­list, to be an­gry at their mis­for­tune.

But not ‘Cubby Boi’, who is one of Welsh rugby’s big­gest char­ac­ters.

He’s philo­soph­i­cal about the hand he has been dealt this cam­paign, say­ing: “You can look at it two ways.

“You can look at it as if it’s the end of the world but I feel per­spec­tive is mas­sive.

“You have got peo­ple go­ing out fight­ing for our coun­try and you have got peo­ple get­ting di­ag­nosed with se­ri­ous ill­nesses.

“When you think you have hurt a joint in your body but all you are do­ing is miss­ing a few games, it puts it all into per­spec­tive.

“It is frus­trat­ing and you are gut­ted but it’s what the sport is, the con­tact and stuff is so hor­rific at the minute when you look at the size of play­ers.

“You are go­ing out there know­ing at any time you could be in hos­pi­tal and go­ing un­der the knife. It’s just part and parcel of sport.

“I don’t think we at the Scar­lets have come close this sea­son to putting out our first XV be­cause of in­juries. It’s not just the back row, it’s been dif­fer­ent po­si­tions all year.

“The sec­ond rows have taken a hit as well but that’s no excuse re­ally. We have worked hard to build good depth in the squad.”

And he was typ­i­cally hon­est about the Scar­lets’ cam­paign, say­ing: “I don’t think we have per­formed to our ca­pa­bil­ity.

“It’s been a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son with in­juries but there’s no ex­cuses, we haven’t per­formed like we know we can and we think we should. That’s the end of it re­ally.”

Scar­lets coach Wayne Pi­vac suc­ceeds War­ren Gat­land as Wales head hon­cho fol­low­ing the World Cup.

Some feel that may im­prove Davies’ prospects of play­ing for Wales, but he’s not so sure.

“I don’t know about bet­ter chance,” he said. “Wayne will have a bet­ter idea of what I’m like in the en­vi­ron­ment com­pared to what maybe Gat­land had thought I would have been like.

“If he likes it he has that per­spec­tive where I guess Gat­land didn’t, so I sup­pose maybe.

“But I’m not even think­ing that far down the line. I can’t get three games to­gether at the minute. I’m just try­ing to nurse my body into play­ing con­di­tion.

“It’s been frus­trat­ing, one of those years where I haven’t been able to get a good run of games be­cause of in­juries.”

Davies was dis­ap­pointed to miss James Davies and Wayne Pi­vac em­brace af­ter a Cham­pi­ons Cup vic­tory over Toulon. out on a chance to play for Wales last au­tumn or in the Six Na­tions be­cause of his in­jury woes.

But he said: “You take your hat off to them, they were fan­tas­tic both cam­paigns, es­pe­cially Six Na­tions.

“When you pick up mo­men­tum it’s hard to stop. You could see in that Ire­land game noth­ing was go­ing to beat them.

“When you keep win­ning it be­comes a habit. You just don’t lose and they have built that up and it has shown on the pitch.”

He hopes to be picked for Wales’ sum­mer camps ahead of the World Cup, but ad­mit­ted: “It’s just some­thing in the back of my mind at the minute.

“I’m just more con­cerned about get­ting a few games un­der my belt and just get­ting fit.

“I just want to play. That’s the fun part and what I en­joy. This year I haven’t been able to do that.”

Davies praised the work of Pi­vac at the Scar­lets, say­ing: “He gave me my first chance. If it wasn’t for him, I might not have had my chance. He’s been huge. I think my per­son­al­ity suits the way he likes to coach and man­age play­ers.

“It’s just been a good fit for me. He’s brought the team to­gether. When you look at it, there are quite a few dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters and he’s worked out how to man­age that, which is a skill in it­self. He’s been bril­liant.

“Be­ing a good man-man­ager is one of his best traits, I would say. He works with and is on a per­sonal level with ev­ery­one. He knows how boys tick and how to man­age them.

“How we have fin­ished is a dis­ap­point­ment be­cause he brought us to­gether as a group. It’s not the way we wanted to close the last chap­ter.

“It’s im­por­tant we give him a good send-off be­cause what he’s done here has been quite tremen­dous when you look at what we have achieved over the last few years.”

Pi­vac will be suc­ceeded at the Scar­lets by Brad Mooar, who is the at­tack coach of Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons Cru­saders but has never been a head hon­cho at pro­fes­sional level.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see our coaches leave be­cause we have done good things since they have been here but it’s also ex­cit­ing,” said Davies.

“You are tak­ing away a good team of coaches but also bring­ing in a good new one.

“It’s go­ing to be fun. A lot of the boys will feel it’s go­ing to be a fresh start again.

“It’s a new chal­lenge and a clean slate for all the play­ers. You have got James Davies leaves the field in­jured against Benet­ton ear­lier this sea­son. to earn your spot again. If that doesn’t ex­cite you, not much will as a rugby player.”

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