Davies brothers picked together for Wales at Rugby World Cup
OITA, Japan (AP) — New Zealand has the Barrett brothers, and Wales has the Davies boys running out for the Rugby World Cup match against Fiji on Wednesday.
James Davies makes his World Cup debut at openside flanker instead of Justin Tipuric, and his older brother Jonathan Davies starts the match at center.
The 31-year-old Jonathan, who is three years older than James, has 78 test caps compared to just five for his younger sibling.
But that didn’t stop James brazenly letting coach Warren Gatland know it was about time he selected him at the World Cup.
“When I congratulated James and said well done his reply was, ‘You have finally seen the light, have you?'” Gatland said after naming his side on Monday. “I loved that. I thought it was brilliant, a great response. I love a bit of banter like that, and I have no problem with comments like that.
“It just says to me that players believe in their own ability. They want to be in the squad and they think they are good enough to be in the starting side.”
Davies said his comment was made purely “tongue in cheek.”
He was struggling to find the right words, anyway, since he was not actually expecting to get the nod for the game at Oita Stadium.
“The back row (forwards) have been outstanding in my eyes and I was a little bit shocked to get the call. But, like he (Gatland) said, I believe in myself and now I’ve got the chance to show that,” he said. “I’ve just worked hard really, every training session. You get disappointed with selection but it’s about doing your best for the team then. You working hard makes the team train a bit better.”
Gatland said it was hard to overlook Tipuric, who scored one of six Wales tries in their opening 43-14 win against Georgia. But intensifying competition for places is a necessity, with England or France to follow in the quarterfinals if Wales beats Fiji on Wednesday.
“We’ve been really happy with Tipuric’s form but it’s an opportunity to look at someone else, just in case he does pick up an injury,” Gatland said. “It will show us whether James can fit into that spot.”
James has one test try to his name, while his elder brother has 16. His tally includes four overall in World Cup play, one of those coming in the win against Georgia.
But even if both brothers score against Fiji, the Barrett boys will still have one over on them.
Beauden, Scott, and Jordie all scored tries when New Zealand routed Canada 63-0 last Wednesday.