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Stephen Jones praises 'brilliant' Jonathan Davies as he approaches milestone

By PA
(Photo by Ian Cook - CameraSport via Getty Images)

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Jonathan Davies has been described as a “brilliant player and brilliant person” as he prepares for membership of international rugby’s 100-club.

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Davies will clock up a century of Wales and British and Irish Lions Test match appearances if he features in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland.

And it would also represent a major triumph over adversity, considering how serious injuries have often stalled the 33-year-old Scarlets centre’s career.

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Lions player of the series against New Zealand in 2017, Davies has overcome major knee issues, displaced metatarsals in his foot and a ruptured chest muscle – among other injuries.

It also meant he missed major events like the 2015 World Cup and entire Six Nations campaigns in 2018 and 2020.

But despite those setbacks he has remained among Wales’ most consistent performers since making his debut against Canada in Toronto almost 13 years ago.

And Wales assistant coach Stephen Jones, a former Wales and Scarlets playing colleague, has no doubt about Davies’ continued influence at the highest level.

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“Jonathan Davies is a brilliant player and a brilliant person. He is a key member of our group,” Jones said.

“He drives standards and is a class act – it is as simple as that. With the brain, knowledge and wealth of experience Jonathan has – with his physical attributes – he is a massive asset to us.

“It is so important to remember the injuries he has had along his career have been serious ones. It shows a mental toughness and resilience that Jonathan has.

“We know what a world-class person and player he is, but the incredible work he puts in behind the scenes to carry on his career has been a testament to him. He should feel very proud.

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“If you look at last year’s Six Nations, Jonathan came into it with an injury. He then figured halfway through the tournament, and his games got better and better.”

Davies joined the Scarlets in 2006, and former Wales fly-half Jones remembers the immediate impact he made.

“I recall it was a new group (of players) – Jon, Rhys Priestland, Ken Owens and Josh Turnbull all came up to our group at the same time,” he added.

“I remember we were doing a session, and Jon was at 13. He took the outside break on one of our players with ease and I thought ‘this guy is not just incredibly big and powerful, he has huge top-end gas, too’.

“That was the first moment for me when I thought he was something special.

“From a personal perspective I have a good relationship with Jonathan, having known him for years. I know where he can get to, and we back ourselves in this environment with him.”

If Davies reaches 100 Tests in Dublin this weekend, fellow centurion Jones will be among the first to offer congratulations, welcoming him to a an elite group of Welshmen that also features Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, George North, Martyn Williams, Gareth Thomas, Leigh Halfpenny and Adam Jones.

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