Six Nations 2013: Business as usual for Wales says Jonathan Davies, despite hype around England showdown
The two sides meet this Saturday with the title on the line
Wednesday 13 March 2013
Jonathan Davies insists it is a case of business as usual for Wales this week - despite the huge media hype surrounding Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title decider against England in Cardiff.
And the Scarlets centre has backed Wales' experiences of a Grand Slam game and World Cup semi-final last season to help keep things on an even keel.
A seven-point victory for Wales should be enough to secure successive championship crowns - a feat they last achieved 34 years ago - although a win by any margin or draw would thwart England's Grand Slam bid.
"It is just a normal week for us," Davies said. "We have been involved in these big games before.
"Everyone will think this is more than a normal week, but we have the experience to draw on with the Grand Slam and the semi-finals of the World Cup.
"This group of players has been used to the big-game environment, so we know what to expect and we can just get our heads down."
Davies and company have turned around their Six Nations campaign following a demoralising opening weekend home defeat against Ireland through three successive away wins without conceding a try.
Victory in Paris last month ended a run of eight successive defeats, but Davies added: "We lost a lot of those games by small margins.
"There was some pressure put on the team by not performing, but we were confident in what we could achieve. We had not become a bad team overnight, and to go and win three games away from home was massive.
"We stayed close as a group and we knew we weren't far away from getting the results. Although there was pressure put on us, we just thrived on that.
"People wrote us off after the first game (against Ireland) and the boys were very pleased to come back with three away wins.
"We might look back a bit and look at the Ireland game and think 'what if', but we can't dwell on those things."
Davies and his midfield partner Jamie Roberts are set to enter the Wales record books on Saturday by teaming up together for a 14th time in the championship, eclipsing the previous appearance mark held by Ray Gravell and Steve Fenwick.
And their battle with likely England centres Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt could go some way towards deciding the outcome.
"I expect they will go with Barritt and Tuilagi because that is what they have gone with in the last couple of games. They are a strong pairing," Davies said.
"Jamie and myself need to get our heads down and look to stop whoever comes down our channel.
"Sam (Warburton) showed last year how you tackle Tuilagi when he took him around the ankles. That was effective.
"We have to trust our defensive patterns and follow what we have done in the last few games, which has been hugely impressive. Not to concede a try in the last three games is a big plus for us, and we want to keep that up.
"People said me and Jamie we were too similar and could not play together, but if we set that record on Saturday it will be testament to the hard work we have done and how we've developed together.
"Things have taken a while, but we have come a long way. We are still developing as a partnership and hopefully getting better."
Wales boss Rob Howley will tomorrow announce at least one change for England following last Saturday's 28-18 success against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Skipper Ryan Jones, sidelined by a broken bone in his shoulder, looks set to be replaced by Justin Tipuric in the back-row, with Warburton wearing the number six shirt.
Howley must also decide between Paul James and Gethin Jenkins, who missed the Scotland clash because of a calf muscle injury, at loosehead prop, while identifying who replaces Jones as captain.
Warburton, Jenkins and lock Alun-Wyn Jones are the three obvious contenders, with Warburton, who lost the skipper's role to back-row colleague Jones when he was injured for last month's game against France, viewed in many quarters as an obvious choice.
But Warburton, captain in the opening Six Nations game against Ireland, was man-of-the-match at Murrayfield when Jones continued as leader.
It was a brave, but totally vindicated, call by Howley not to reinstate him as captain, letting the 24-year-old concentrate solely on his own performance without distractions, and Warburton duly delivered an immense display.
A repeat approach by Howley cannot be ruled out.
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