The omission of a young Welsh star from Warren Gatland’s 60-man pre-Rugby World Cup year gathering has caused quite the stir.
Last week Wales headcoach Warren Gatland convened a meeting for 60 players at the Vale of Glenmorgan, where he detailed his plans for the year leading up to the Rugby World Cup.
“We feel like we’re in a really good place at the moment,” the Wales coach told the players. “There’s real competition in the room because we see you guys in here as the players potentially in contention for the next 12 months.”
The most glaring omission is – according to Wales Online – that of young flyhalf Sam Davies. 31 players will travel as part of Wales squad to Japan next year, and Davies hasn’t even made the apparent top 60.
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Capped eight times by Wales, the 24-year-old now has a metaphorical mountain to climb to make the Welsh squad for the sport’s centrepiece tournament.
Davies has done little wrong in a Welsh shirt, and his form with the Ospreys has done much to ease the transition with the exit of Dan Biggar to Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership. Despite his age he has already racked up 110 appearances for the Ospreys, scoring over 600 points in the process.
Davies became Wales cap number 1,128 when he replaced Ospreys teammate Dan Biggar as a second-half replacement against Australia in the opening game of the 2016 November Tests.
He kicked Wales to victory against Tonga in the summer tour last year but hasn’t featured since the following match against Samoa.
The son of former Wales inside centre and caretaker head coach Nigel Davies, he played for Wales Under 20 in the Junior World Cup in South Africa and also took part in the U20 Six Nations the following year.
In June 2013 he was named IRB Junior Player of the Year.
It would seem Gatland’s preference is for Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell and Gareth Anscombe. Gatland is a fan of size in his back division and Davies’ relatively slight physique may have played against him. While Davies can cover fullback, both Anscombe and Patchell’s ability to cover the position too will also have played to their respective plus columns.
It’s going to be a cut-throat year in the International rugby, and Davies may well be one of its first casualties.
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