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James Davies up for a scrap over that Wales No.7 shirt

James DaviesJames Davies returned to Llanelli this week with an Olympic silver medal in his back pocket and only one thing in mind – adding a Welsh cap to his resume.

The Scarlets flanker put on hold his dream of joining elder brother Jonathan as a Welsh international this summer to battle for a place in the Team GB squad in Rio and he was rewarded with a silver medal and a place in the tournament ‘Dream Team’.

But the Scarlets flanker doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels following his hero’s welcome from Rio. After a short break there will be a new battle to look forward to for the 25-year-old.

Davies told The Rugby Paper: “I’ve got three weeks off before returning to the Scarlets. I’m looking forward to having a bit of a break, but then it will be back into the 15s. I’m contracted or another two years, so there is no chance of playing any more sevens rugby at the moment.

“I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Team GB, but now my dreams switch back to trying to play for Wales in the Six Nations or World Cup. I’ve always dreamed of reaching the pinnacle of the 15-a-side game and I can’t wait to get back into it and start scrapping with the likes of Sam Warburton, Nic Cudd and Justin Tipuric for a place in the Welsh team. There was a chance of going to New Zealand this summer, but I wouldn’t have swapped the Olympic experience with anything.

“The last 10 weeks we have been together have been amazing and I have made friends for life – it has been a very special journey that we all embraced so much. I will take things from my experiences in Rio back with me to the Scarlets and use them to try to win a Welsh cap.”

Davies, who was roared on by his whole family in Rio, helped Team GB reach the final unbeaten, but the gold medal match proved a disappointment as Fiji romped to a 43-7 triumph to win their nation’s first Olympic medal of any colour.

“A few critics said there weren’t many stars in the British squad, but to be fair to our coach Simon Amor he put together a group of specialists who went all the way to the final unbeaten. We beat New Zealand and South Africa, two of the highest ranked teams, as well as the much improved Japanese,” said Davies.

“The final against Fiji was disappointing, especially as we always said we had come to win gold. We were gutted with how the final went, but Fiji were very, very good. But don’t judge our achievement on the final – we had to put away some great teams to get there.

“I struggled to put into perspective what it meant to become an Olympian and I still can’t put into words what it means to have won a silver medal. Simply being called an Olympian sent a shiver down my spine and being able to share those final moments with my family was incredible.

“My twin sister, Rachel, came over with my Mum and Dad and Jonathan was there as well. Now we can have a debate about whether an Olympic Sevens silver medal matches up to his series win for the British & Irish Lions in Australia.”

Having played at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Wales, and now the Olympics, Davies believes the game of Sevens had left an indelible mark on the sporting world and expects it to remain in the Olympic schedule for many years to come.

“It was fantastic for the sport and the last few weeks have been a credit to rugby and it can only grow from here. It’s a perfect sport for the Olympics and fits in with their proud boast of being the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’,” he added.

“I’m sure it will stick around in future Games and for me to have been a part of the first one just makes it all the more special. This sport is only going to get bigger and bigger.

“I spoke to Gareth Williams, the Welsh Sevens coach who was Simon Amor’s assistant in Rio, about the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Cost in 2018. I would love to represent my country again having played in Glasgow two years ago and it would be great if Wales could send a really strong squad.

“It is an unbelievably tough sport to play, and I don’t know how many of the top players in Wales could combine it with 15s. Someone like Sam Cross has worked so hard on his game and he was brilliant in Rio.

“He has been one of the best forwards on the World Series circuit this year and he helped me so much in the build-up because I had been out of the game for so long.”

ROB COLE

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