Wales leave out Jonathan Davies for Australia match despite centre being on the brink of 100 caps… but Wayne Pivac insists soon-to-be centurion has NOT been dropped despite Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins starting instead
- Jonathan Davies will not get his 100th cap for Wales against Australia this week
- The centre was left out by Wayne Pivac who insists he has not been dropped
- The recovered Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins will start at centre over Davies
- Wales are struggling for fitness after the Fiji clash and have 16 players injured
Wales might be in the midst of an injury crisis, but still left Jonathan Davies out of their team for the Australia match which would have been his 100th international.
But Wales boss Wayne Pivac backed Davies, 33, to reach that century, combining 93 Wales caps with six Lions ones so far, and make the next World Cup – making it clear he had not been dropped.
Pivac selected Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins at centre over Davies, a combination he had wanted to see previously but Halaholo caught Covid in the week of the All Blacks match.
Wales have left out Jonathan Davies to rob him of his 100th cap against Australia on Saturday
Wayne Pivac admitted Davies has not been dropped and is confident he will get his century
‘Jonathan hasn’t been dropped but we want to have a look at Willis and also Josh Adams in midfield,’ said Pivac who views Davies’ future at inside, not outside centre.
‘He’s the captain of this group, since Alun Wyn Jones left, and that doesn’t change just because he’s not playing.
WALES VS AUSTRALIA LINE-UPS
WALES: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, Tompkins, Halaholo, Adams; Biggar, T Williams; W Jones, Elias, Francis, Beard, S Davies, Jenkins (c), Basham, Wainwright.
Bench: Dee, G Thomas, Lewis, Carter, Tshiunza, G Davies, Priestland, McNicholl.
AUSTRALIA: Beale; Kellaway, Ikitau, Paisami, Daugunu; O’Connor, White; Slipper, Latu, Tupou, Arnold, Rodda, Leota, Samu, Valetini.
Bench: Faingaa, Bell, Alaalatoa, Skelton, Swinton, McDermott, Foketi, Wright.
‘He has a big input off the field, he’s a senior player. He understands that we always put the team first. As much as he wants to play, he understands the reasoning.
‘He knows that we’ve got a World Cup that we’re working back from and he’s desperate to play at that World Cup. He believes he’s got something to contribute, otherwise I believe he would retire.
‘We’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out for the Six Nations. If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on Jonathan Davies walking away too soon.
‘He’s hungry. He’s just as hungry as if he had one or two caps. He desperately wants to play for his country. He knows he’s got more to give.’
Wales have 16 players out injured, and are not out of the woods on two more selected for Saturday.
Tomas Francis needs to jump through more hoops with the concussion return-to-play protocols to start at tight-head, and wing Adams still must prove his fitness after calf trouble ruled him out of the Fiji game.
Both could drop out. If so, Wales are lacking props and Wyn Jones – a loose-head – may have to cover the tight side with Dillon Lewis promoted from the bench.
Wales are currently struggling from fatigue after their win over Fiji and have 16 players injured
To stave off yet more fatigue Wales have only trained fully once this week ahead of their final match of an autumn that has stretched their resources to the limit.
‘Some players have performed very well which has been a massive bonus for us, because the flip side of having no injuries is those players wouldn’t have been exposed, and maybe closer to the World Cup and during World Cup we then get exposed and you have inexperienced players there,’ added Pivac.
‘So it’s helping us with a view of players and potential squads going forward, more information for us which has been fantastic.
‘But it has changed slightly the direction of where we wanted to go with the side if we had a full squad available. It is similar to last autumn.
Pivac believes this is a good opportunity for Wales to look at potential options going forward
‘We’ve learned a lot of lessons from that, but we just don’t want to have keep learning lessons.
‘When we look back in a couple of years’ time, we’ll see what the last two autumns have done and that’s given us a stronger squad to go into a World Cup year.’
Australia are without captain Michael Hooper, so James Slipper skippers back at loose-head prop, and are patched-up too with Quade Cooper, Sean McMahon and Samu Kerevi unable to travel here due to club commitments.
Australia will be captained by James Slipper with regular skipper Michael Hooper out injured
But Pivac does not believe the lack of stars available on both sides diminishes the spectacle.
‘Both in the Australian changing room and the Welsh changing room there are young men pulling on the jersey and representing their country, it’s something they’ve dreamed about,’ he concluded.
‘Whether it’s Australia with one or two injuries, or five injuries and vice versa, players don’t really give a… you know? No matter what their team-mates look like, they want to go out there and perform.’