Gatland shows faith in Davies after tragedy

Young lock named in side to face France following the sudden death of his mother
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The Independent Online

The Wales coach, Warren Gatland, will give lock Bradley Davies all the time he needs after his mother Sheryl died suddenly following a short illness.

Gatland has told the 23-year-old Cardiff Blues forward that he will start in next Friday's Six Nations match against France at the Millennium Stadium. It would be Davies' eighth cap, but his first Six Nations start.

Gatland will reveal the line-up early on Monday evening, but he has urged Davies to focus entirely on personal issues after his mother's death on Thursday night.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with Bradley and his family and friends at this difficult time for them all," Gatland said. "I have told Bradley that we fully understand that his focus is on this sad loss, and his absence from any of our sessions will not count against his continued inclusion in the Six Nations squad.

"I will announce the team to play France on Monday, and I have informed Bradley that he will be selected in the starting XV.

"His initial view is that his mother would be extremely proud of that, and he wants to play any part he is selected for. Of course, I will fully understand if he and his family come to any other decision. It is important now they spend time together to come to terms with their loss."

With his fellow lock Alun Wyn Jones recovering from elbow surgery and Jonathan Thomas set to feature at blindside flanker following Andy Powell's axing, Davies looks set to forge a second-row partnership with Newport-Gwent Dragons' Luke Charteris.

Gatland is expected to replace the injured Gareth Williams with Huw Bennett at hooker, while scrum-half Richie Rees is tipped for a starting role in place of his Blues colleague Gareth Cooper.