Popular Wales star has not played a game for 500 days and still has no return in sight

By this time next week, it will have been 500 days since James Davies last played a game of rugby and still there is no date pencilled in for his return.

It’s been a tough time for the man who has both an Olympic silver medal and 11 Wales caps to his name. As befits one of the real characters of Welsh rugby, “Cubby Boi” has remained an enthusiastic presence off the field at the Scarlets, with his old school approach. You can read more about his colorful demeanor here.

To quote head coach Dwayne Peel, the 31-year-old flanker has been “fantastic” and “excellent” around the club, a club he dearly loves. But what Davies loves doing above all is playing rugby, as he has demonstrated time and again during his career, with his infectious personality, his beaming smile and his trademark try celebration.

Yet, sadly, he has been unable to do that for some 16 months now because of ongoing concussion problems. Before that, there was major hip damage which required surgery, ruling him out for an extended period.

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All in all, it means he has played just eight games for the Scarlets since the 2019 World Cup, with his last outing for the region coming in October 2020. A few weeks after that, he played what still stands as his most recent game of rugby – for Wales against Georgia in the Nations Cup at Parc y Scarlets.

Since then, the man who helped Team GB reach the final of the 2016 Olympic Sevens in Rio, has pretty much disappeared from view. But behind the scenes at the Scarlets, where his elder brother and now 100-cap Wales center Jonathan is a fellow squad member, Davies has remained a valued figure.

“He is fantastic off the field in the group,” said Peel. “You obviously know him and have spoken to him. He’s enthusiastic and he loves the club. He loves everything about the place.

“With him in the group, he’s quite forthright in his views and he’s very straight to the point with the boys and it’s great. He is that way inclined and he’s a bit old school in that respect. I love that about him as well. In terms of quality around the group, he has been excellent. It’s just a slow process for him unfortunately. Injuries occur and it’s tough. He’s a quality player and a great Scarlet. He obviously misses it. ”

Asked if he could give a date for Davies’ likely return, Peel said he was not able to. Just what the future holds for the popular “Cubby Boi” remains to be seen.

There’s firmer news on fellow flanker Josh Macleod, who is close to making his comeback. The 25-year-old has endured wretched luck over the past couple of seasons, twice having his Wales hopes wrecked by injury and then being struck down a third time at the start of this year.

Having been named in Wayne Pivac’s autumn squad of 2020, he tore his hamstring the day before he was due to link up with the group. Then, the following February, he ruptured his Achilles tendon just half an hour after being told he was going to make his Test debut against Scotland.

His return was delayed by Covid cancellations and when he finally got back on the field in the New Year’s Day derby clash with the Ospreys, for his first game in 11 months, his hamstring went again, meaning another lay-off.

“It’s been a long road for him. He’s been very frustrated, ”said former Wales and Lions scrum-half Peel. He’s had injury after injury and found himself training alone for a year, so it’s been very difficult for him, but he’s been very diligent. He carries himself really well around the group and is very eager to speak in meetings. ”

The hope is that the Pembrokeshire-raised Macleod will now be able to resume playing in a couple of weeks time.

“He’s a key player for us, he’s fast, he’s explosive, good on the floor, so I’m looking forward to getting him back in the fold,” Peel said. “It’s good to see him on the field training and we will see how he progresses.”

Speaking about both Davies and Macleod, Peel said: “For us, it’s just about supporting them and making sure they are right when they return and they are good to go.”


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