Jonathan Davies aims for World Cup and playing with brother James for Wales

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Jonathan Davies has scored 14 tries in 68 Tests for Wales since making his debut in 2009
Jonathan Davies has scored 14 tries in 68 Tests for Wales since making his debut in 2009

Wales centre Jonathan Davies might not want to call them New Year's resolutions.

But he admits playing in a second World Cup and lining up in the same Wales side as younger brother James for the first time would ensure a pretty special 2019.

The last year has been a mixed affair for Davies, ruled out for the first eight months of 2018 with an ankle injury before returning to become an integral part of Wales' four-match autumn success.

The World Cup in Japan runs from September to November and will prove the pinnacle for every Test rugby player next year.

The 2017 British and Irish Lions man of the series is no exception, especially given he missed the 2015 tournament with a knee injury.

That came four years after Davies played a starring role in helping Wales reach the World Cup semi-finals in New Zealand. So Davies has experienced the agony and ecstasy of rugby's global tournament.

"Everyone's goal is to go to that World Cup but there's a lot of hard work to be done, be in form and you have got to be lucky as well," said Davies.

"After having the 2011 experience, watching 2015 was probably the worst and most frustrating experience of my career.

"I always said I wanted to play in another World Cup and hopefully with a lot of hard work I can warrant a position in that squad.

"It's a goal but not a drive because it can't all be centred around that, as you would get distracted."

World Cup family affair?

Davies hopes there will be two family members in Warren Gatland's final 31-man World Cup squad. Flanker James has won three caps for Wales in 2018 but achieved them when Jonathan was ruled out injured.

The Scarlets centre had hoped to line up alongside his brother for Wales in November, but a knee injury ruled out James from that campaign.

"If I was to play with my brother for Wales it would top anything I have done in rugby but we don't normally stay fit at the same time," said Davies.

Scarlets' James Davies (left) with brother Jonathan in support against Ospreys on 22 December, 2018
Scarlets' James Davies (left) with brother Jonathan in support against Ospreys on 22 December, 2018

As if spending most days at work was not enough, the Davies brothers have been spending more time together this Christmas at the family home where the competitive juices were boiling over in the party games.

"It was nice being there together but unfortunately he won at Cards Against Humanity, so he was chuffed with that," said Davies.

"I bought him a night's stay in one of those dog hotels in the Cotswolds; there's plenty of long walks, which he will hate, so I thought it was perfect for him!

"He made sure we're all going to one of those escape rooms as a family.

"If having Christmas together wasn't enough we are going to lock each other in a room and probably drive each other crazy.

"It will be nice because, as a family, we don't get to spend much time together but we are close."

Losing streak

Davies also celebrated a Boxing Day victory when a racehorse he has a stake in, called Potters Corner, won at Wincanton.

On the field it has proved very different, with Scarlets having lost four successive games including the latest loss to Ospreys.

The region have also been dumped out of the Heineken Champions Cup with a quartet of European losses, having made the semi-finals the previous season.

"It's a case of getting back to the fundamentals that made us a force over the last couple of years," said Davies.

"Maybe we have just been tentative in certain areas of the field where, over the last few years, we have backed ourselves.

"We have not become a bad team, are still a quality outfit, and have to make sure we show that."

Ellis Jenkins' long-term knee injury came in the final moments of the win over South Africa
Ellis Jenkins' long-term knee injury came in the final moments of the win over South Africa

Scarlets face another Pro14 Welsh derby on Saturday against Cardiff Blues, who will be missing captain Ellis Jenkins after the flanker suffered an agonising knee injury in the final move of Wales' win over South Africa in November.

Jenkins is battling to be fit for the World Cup and Davies knows what the flanker is going through, after suffering a long-term foot problem against Australia in November 2017 which ruled him out of action for nine months.

"I was in the vicinity when it happened and it was a nasty one," said Davies.

"I saw Ellis in the changing room afterwards and asked how he is. It's the most stupid question you can ever ask someone, but feel it's the one you're compelled to ask.

"Ellis just said, 'It's like you from last year', and said he was asking himself why he did it. It's your instincts and I told him those instincts are why he was on the field in the first place.

"It's probably something he will use to help him get back to where he wants to be in the future."

Returning to form and fitness

Davies is feeling his own way back this season, with a minor hamstring injury initially delaying his return from the long-term foot problem.

The centre is someone Gatland can ill-afford to lose, despite the 30-year-old saying he is not yet back to his best.

Wales will be hoping Davies again peaks when it matters, as he has already demonstrated on two Lions tours, a World Cup and Six Nations success.

"Before the autumn it took me a while to get back up to speed and regain the confidence," said Davies.

"After being out for so long it is just nice being on the field.

"I'm nearly there, but it's about accuracy and delivering that level of skill in big games with the Scarlets and at international level."

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