Rugby - Davies happy with Wales preparation

Bradley Davies has no doubt that Wales' preparations have been spot on for their latest attempt to floor a southern hemisphere heavyweight.

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Rugby - Davies happy with Wales preparation
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Bradley Davies is happy with Wales' preparations.

Cardiff Blues lock Davies will make his first Wales appearance at the Millennium Stadium since last November when Rugby Championship runners-up South Africa provide the opposition on Saturday.

Wales' coaching team and captain Sam Warburton have this week underlined the crucial importance of beginning to take major foreign scalps, something that has eluded them since 1999 (South Africa), 1953 (New Zealand) and 2008 (Australia).

That Wallabies win has so far proved the solitary success during more than 20 attempts in head coach Warren Gatland's five-year reign, even though Wales have won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached a World Cup semi-final under the New Zealander's direction.

Wales now have a first tilt at the Springboks since suffering an agonising 17-16 defeat against them in the World Cup pool phase two years ago, and 40 times-capped Davies is relishing the prospect.

"South Africa are going to challenge us front-on with their style of play," said Davies, who has been recalled as Alun-Wyn Jones' second-row partner after missing last season's Six Nations because of an ankle injury.

"We prepared for it in training last week. Training was physical, and hopefully we can transfer it to Saturday's game.

"It was the best week's training I have had with Wales. We've had a real, tough preparation. It has been tiring, but good, and I slept like a baby on Sunday!

"Personally, I have kind of been building momentum and I feel I am back to where I know I can and want to be.

"I feel I am ready to run through brick walls, which is normally a good sign."

Davies was on the bench when Wales lost to South Africa in Wellington, yet in many ways it was a performance of sufficient high quality to underpin their push towards the latter knockout stages.

"We were written off before that game, but we were well in it," he added.

"Because of that match we turned the corner and the snowball effect gave us momentum to reach the semi-finals.

"I thought we played the better rugby, but at the end of the day history says we lost. There's been a lot of games we have said we should have won over the last couple of years but we haven't. We need to start turning those narrow losses into wins."

Wales' record against the leading southern hemisphere sides is a particularly poor one when compared with England's during the professional era.

While Wales have consistently struggled to find a winning formula, England can reflect on a number of victories over the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies, including beating Australia five days ago despite not hitting top gear.

"England have shown the way, really," Davies said.

"They were a bit rusty during the opening 20 minutes last weekend, but they stuck together and their physicality and fitness came through and they got the win.

"South Africa are a different type of team to Australia. They pride themselves on their physicalty, and I suppose we have as well over the last couple of years.

"All international rugby is gladiatorial, and it's going to be a massive challenge up front because that is where it all starts."

Wales were due to continue their preparations with a contact session against Newport Gwent Dragons players, a move welcomed by national team skipper Warburton.

"It is good for us, because in our last couple of campaigns we have started a bit slower than we would have liked," Warburton said.

"When you do contact against each other it's not quite the same as if you are doing it against a team.

"That is why training against Wales Under-20s was really good for us last season. It definitely helps you and primes you for the game on Saturday.

"It will only be short bouts of contact, but you need to experience that during the week so that it isn't such a shock to the system in the first 10 minutes on Saturday."

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