Davies driven by agony of 2007
September 27, 2011
Bradley Davies is hoping that this World Cup proves far more enjoyable for Wales than their last © Getty Images
Bradley Davies may not have been a member of the Welsh side which was dumped out of the Rugby World Cup in France four years ago by Fiji - but the lock has revealed that the pain of that infamous defeat in Nantes still resonates with him as a supporter.
Davies was just 20 when the Fijians pipped the Welsh to a place in the quarter-finals with a stunning 38-34 victory at the Stade de la Beaujoire, a result which ultimately cost then Wales coach Gareth Jenkins his job.
The defeat remains one of the lowest points in the history of Welsh rugby and Davies admits that the entire country, and not just the players, took it exceptionally hard.
"I probably watched in a pub in Llantrisant somewhere," he said "I felt it - everyone did. Even though I am a player and I am involved, deep down at heart I am still a Welsh fan. I'm a Welsh boy who supports Wales whether I am playing or not.
"I was gutted four years ago, but that's rugby for you. We weren't good enough on the day and we came unstuck."
As fate would have it, Wales and Fiji will again meet on the final weekend of the pool stages this time around. However, Fiji have little hope of making the last eight this time around. After defeats to South Africa and Samoa, the Fijians need to win with a bonus point and deny Wales one if they are to have any chance of progressing.
For Wales, the situation is far more straightforward, as a win - or indeed a losing bonus point - almost certain to see them qualify given that Samoa, whom they are locked together with in second place in Pool D on ten points, have to tackle to the Springboks on Friday.
Davies is desperate to be involved, after making his first start of the tournament in Monday night's rout of Nambia. However, there is every chance that he will again have to make do with a seat on bench, with head coach Warren Gatland expected to go with Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones in the second-row. Missing out would be a hammer blow for Davies but he is philosophical about his current situation.
"It's swings and roundabouts," he said. "One day you are in the team and playing on top of your game - the next, you are on the sidelines.
"But we are trying to develop world-class locks, so competition is part of the deal. It's good for Wales. Maybe in the past we haven't been blessed with that so much.
"Not being picked for the South Africa game was a blow because I thought I had been playing well for Wales, but if someone is picked ahead of you just have to deal with it.
"If I am not picked, I am not picked. I don't make an issue of it. The other guy is better than me in the eyes of the selectors. I just try to train hard and make an impact off the bench if I get that opportunity."
Indeed, Davies claims that every single member of the Welsh squad shares the same goal and that is to prove in New Zealand that they are not only capable of competing with the best sides in the world, but also beating them, something that they have repeatedly failed to do in recent years.
"In the past, we have been happy to perform well against the big sides. But once you start performing well, you want to get results," he said.
"Too many times we've been in a situation where people were saying 'Wales performed well, but they lost again'. That is what the summer was about, trying to make sure we are able to perform for the full 80 minutes. We're clinical, powerful and we look fit.
"Fiji beat us in the last World Cup, but that was four years ago. We had a different squad and a different coach - what happened then isn't really an issue now. We know Fiji will be a massive threat.
"A Rugby World Cup is a massive thing in a player's career, and you want something to remember it for. The last World Cup wasn't great for Wales, but now we want to have fond memories and leave a legacy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards