Davies in doubt for trip to France

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RUGBY LEAGUE

BY DAVE HADFIELD

On the day he was named to lead Wales's attempt to win the European Championship for the first time since 1938, uncertainty surrounds Jonathan Davies' plans, in both the short and long term.

Davies may yet be unable to make the trip to play France in Carcassonne on 5 March, because his wife is expecting the couple's third child next Monday.

Beyond that, he was perplexed by reports that he is to retire from rugby league after this autumn's centenary World Cup to concentrate on a new career as a summariser with BBC Wales.

"There has been an approach and we have had informal talks, but that is as far as it has gone," he said. "I have signed a new two-year contract with Warrington and I'm not quitting."

Davies was less emphatic on the question of whether he anticipated playing out the whole of his remaining two-and-a-half seasons with the club, although Warrington's baffled reaction yesterday was that they certainly expect him to do so, having come up with a lucrative offer to persuade him against ending his career in Australia.

Davies will play this summer for the newly formed North Queensland Cowboys, but is then due to return to England, both to resume with Warrington and to lead Wales's campaign in the World Cup.

The side that Davies will captain - other commitments permitting - in France contains one significant change from the line-up which beat England in Cardiff three weeks ago.

John Devereux returns after a year ruined by injury, most recently the fractured jaw he suffered trying to tackle Mal Meninga when Wales played Australia in October.

He showed signs of his old power in scoring for Widnes against Sheffield on Sunday and, especially in the continuing absence of Scott Gibbs, Wales are delighted to have him back.

"It's good for us," Davies said, "but, more so, it's good for John after the sort of year he has had." Devereux displaces the Wakefield centre, Daio Powell, but there is no place in the squad for the Wigan forward, Scott Quinnell, despite a performance against Wakefield on Sunday that showed that he is coming to terms with his new code.

n WALES SQUAD (John Smith's European Championship v France, Carcassonne, 5 March): K Skerrett, N Cowie, M Hall, P Atcheson (all Wigan), A Bateman, J Davies, I Harris (all Warrington), A Sullivan (St Helens), J Devereux, A Hadley (all Widnes), P Ford, D Young, R Webster (all Salford), R Phillips, K Ellis (all Workington), P Moriarty, M Perrett (both Halifax), R Eyres (Leeds), M Jones (Hull).

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