Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales back on radar says Davies

Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-finals: Wales v France

Venue:
Eden Park, Auckland
Date:
Saturday, 15 October
Kick-off:
0900 BST / 2100 NZ
Coverage:
Live text commentary, scores and report on BBC website; updates on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 5 live; watch live on ITV1, ITV Wales & S4C (Welsh language), live commentary on BBC Radio Cymru (Welsh language) & TalkSport radio
Jonathan Davies takes on Ireland's Sean O'Brien during Wales' quarter-fianl win
Jonathan Davies takes on Ireland's Sean O'Brien during Wales' quarter-fianl win

Centre Jonathan Davies says Wales have enjoyed going quietly about their business at the World Cup but realises they are now fully in the spotlight.

An impressive 22-10 quarter-final win over Ireland booked Saturday's clash with France, with the winner facing Australia or New Zealand in the final.

"The huge interest has changed and put us on the map really," said Davies.

"We were quite comfortable going under the radar, making sure we did our own thing."

The performance against Ireland, in which 23-year-old Davies scored one of Wales' three tries, has seen coach Warren Gatland make just once injury-enforced change to his starting XV against Les Bleus.

Davies' Scarlets team-mate Rhys Priestland has been ruled out with the shoulder knock he suffered towards the end of the quarter-final.

That sees James Hook, who missed two pool games with his own shoulder problems, restored to fly-half, with Wales record cap-holder Stephen Jones set to make his 102nd Wales appearance if he comes off the bench.

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"It's obviously a huge shame for Rhys not playing, but to have two Lions coming into your squad we're very fortunate we have strength in depth in that position," Davies said.

"I'm sure Hooky will just slot back in like there's no change at all.

"I've played a lot of my rugby since being a child with [Priestland]... he's played so well with his kicking game and attacking the line.

"But Hooky has got the same quality so I'm looking forward to playing with him, I played a lot of the Six Nations with Hooky.

"Steve's on the bench and if he comes on it'll be the same as usual, he can slot back and they're comfortable whoever playes really, there's no real selection issue.

"A lot of boys are picking up bumps and bruises, but the sheer excitement of the game on Saturday is keeping us going.

"It's something we've wanted to be involved in since we first went to Poland [on training camps] and something we're achieving. It's something we don't want to give up and we want to be involved for the whole tournament.

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"Now with the huge interest of the semi-finals it is very exciting and something we're relishing."

While Davies has taken note of the growing interest in Wales as they have progressed in the tournament, he is still enjoying his relative obscurity in public in New Zealand.

"Some of the other boys do [get recognised on the street] but luckily enough I don't wear my scrum-cap on the streets so I keep under the radar still, I'm alright with that!" Davies added.

"It's quite handy to keep away and have a quiet coffee on my own."

But given his performances alongside Jamie Roberts in the Wales midfield this tournament, France are likely to be keeping a close eye on Davies in Auckland on Saturday.

TEAM DETAILS:

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); George North (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Perpignan), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons) Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Toby Faletau (Dragons).

Replacements: Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Paul James (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets).

France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements (from): Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Louis Picamoles, Francois Trinh-Duc, David Marty, Cedric Heymans, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Jean-Marc Doussain.

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