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'You walked past me on the bus, shook my hand and congratulated me'

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Wales centre Jonathan Davies has recounted his side of the story following his controversial selection ahead of Brian O’Driscoll in the British and Irish Lions tour in 2013.


Irish legend O’Driscoll was interviewing Davies for BT’s ‘Lions Call‘, in which they reflected on what was became maybe the most contentious selection call in the history of the touring side. Gatland picking Davies ahead of ‘BOD’ for the third Test caused a storm in Ireland, as it denied the Irish centre the opportunity of a romantic final chapter to his Lions career.

“I know my experiences of the third week, it was well documented,” said O’Driscoll. “What about yours? How did you deal with the mini circus around it when you had a Test match to play?”

Davies responded: “I didn’t expect to be selected and that was initially the shock. I remember getting on the bus and thinking ‘Right, you’ve got to knuckle down this week even more so’.

“To be fair to you, you walked past me on the bus, shook my hand and congratulated me. I thought it would go pretty wild, with the reaction back home and stuff like that.

“I expected it and probably geared myself up for it. After that, it was more the social media stuff. Like you said, the little circus.

“You are getting tweeted stuff and you are just like ‘wow’.”


“I took it with a pinch of salt. I remember speaking to my brother (James) on FaceTime and he was laughing at it.

“He was reading my Tweets back to me and I was like ‘I’ve already read them, I don’t need to listen to them any more!’

“I probably used it as a motivating factor, like I will prove you wrong. I wanted to do the best I could and make sure we won the series.

“I think that’s what focused me.


“Gats asked me on the Friday ‘How’s it been?’ and I was like ‘Well, yeah, ok’.

“He was like ‘Yeah, I know, exactly’

“He said ‘Just make sure we win and we’ll be ok’

“I was like ‘Yeah, ok’,” said Davies.

O’Driscoll noted that Davies and he were unlikely to be combined as a combination, as both were outside centres, although ultimately the pair would started the first and second Test together: “It was kind of through default that the two of us ended up playing in the centre together,” said O’Driscoll. “I don’t think we would have been earmarked as a centre pairing at the start of the tour because we were out and out 13s.”

“I felt my best chance of playing in the Tests was probably to try and partner with Manu (Tuilagi) because your partnership with Jamie had gone so well in the Six Nations. I played with Manu in the first game and we played well and then he got injured.

“Then when Jamie got injured, I suppose, almost through default, we found ourselves playing in the Test team.”

It was Davies first Lions tour and O’Driscoll fourth and last, with his retirement from the game coming just a year later. A three-time Six Nations winner with Wales, Jonathan was part of the British and Irish Lions Test side in 2013 and 2017, named by his team-mates as the Lions’ player of the series.

Since making his Scarlets debut in 2006-07, ‘Foxy’ has established himself as one of the leading centres in world rugby. He spent two seasons with French giants Clermont Auvergne, reaching a European Cup final with Les Jaunards. He returned to Parc y Scarlets in 2016-17 and was an integral part of the Scarlets’ PRO12 title-winning side.


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