With Sam Warburton undergoing neck surgery that will sideline him until the New Year, Gatland is expected to stick with Ospreys lock Alun-Wyn Jones, who was appointed for last season’s Six Nations by stand-in Wales coach Rob Howley.
However, former Wales flanker Williams believes the time is right to look at Davies, who has 64 Welsh caps along with six others for the Lions, for whom he was named man-of-the-series following the tour of New Zealand.
Williams told The Rugby Paper: “You’d imagine Alun-Wyn will keep the job. However, Gats may look at the World Cup in two years and give it to a fresh face and fresh voice, which for me should be Jonathan Davies.”
Outlining Davies’ credentials, Williams added: “He’s a very balanced individual. If you look at Jon throughout his career he’s been surrounded by rock stars like Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and George North – guys who get all the plaudits – but he’s been the glue of that backline since the 2011 World Cup and he’s got a good rugby brain.
“He’s a player’s player, someone others would look up to, and while he hasn’t captained his region that much, he’s the sort of bloke who would thrive on that responsibility.
“He’s at a stage in his career where he’s by far the best No.13 in Wales and is nailed-on to play, so if you’re looking towards 2019 and what happens if Sam and Alun-Wyn both go down, the more people you can give experience to, the better.”
Meanwhile, Williams reckons Dan Biggar’s move to Northampton next summer should have the red warning lights flashing in the valleys.
Where top players were once enticed to France, Williams believes English clubs now wield the power to denude Welsh rugby’s box office appeal.
“Losing Dan Biggar’s not a great signal,” Williams said. “Five years ago the French clubs were the big threat to the Welsh regions, but now it seems to be the English.
“Toby Faletau’s gone to Bath, Liam Williams has joined Saracens, Dan is leaving and there’s talk of Rhys Webb going as well. The money is definitely at the top end of the Premiership, and that’s the big threat now.
“How ‘Gatland’s Law’ is affected will be interesting to see because there’s so much money in England and every man has his price. The positive is that younger guys get chances, but you need your top players in Wales to attract fans.”
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