Gareth Davies is planning to give Shaun Edwards a taste of his own medicine when the former Wales defence coach returns to Cardiff with France next week.
Edwards spent 12 years in Wales as Warren Gatland’s lieutenant, a period of sustained success which brought four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals.
In that time, Edwards forged a reputation as one of the best defence coaches in world rugby – and Davies was a major beneficiary of his tactical know-how.
Davies says he got an insight into reading plays and mastered the art of the interception to score memorable lung-bursting tries.
Among such scores were his 2018 Six Nations try against Scotland in Cardiff and the decisive 60-metre effort against Australia at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“It was doing a lot of analysis work, seeing how different teams play,” Scarlets scrum-half Davies said of Edwards’ approach.
“I’d have a couple of chats with him and he’d tell me what he’d expect the opposition to throw at us, so I could pop into the front line every now and again and try and pick a few passes off.
“He was right quite a lot of the time. I’ve had a couple of intercepts from the analysis work I used to do with him.
“I do a lot of that stuff myself now, so hopefully I can pick one off against the French.”
Edwards joined France after Wales’ fourth-placed World Cup finish in Japan.
He said he had “no choice” but to accept France’s offer of a four-year contract over the two-year deal on the table from the Welsh Rugby Union.
“We were a little bit disappointed he left us, but we’ve had Byron (Hayward) coming in and doing a great job,” Davies said.
“I think everyone knows Shaun pretty well, he’s a world-class defence coach.
“It’s a big focus for us now leading up to the French game on how we can break that defence down.
“We know it’s pretty hard to break down as it’s a good defensive policy he’s got. So we’ll be doing a lot of work in training now.”
Davies was Wales’ first-choice scrum-half at the World Cup, but injury cost him his place at the start of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.
Tomos Williams has started the first two games against Italy and Ireland, although Davies played the final half-hour of Saturday’s 24-14 defeat in Dublin.
If he does start against France on Saturday week to win his 53rd cap, the 29-year-old will be up against Toulouse star Antoine Dupont.
“He’s probably one of the most in-form players in the world,” Davies said of Dupont.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence and seems to be making the right decisions all the time, which is an important area for a scrum-half.
“Whoever plays – whether it’s me, Webby (Rhys Webb) or Tomos – I’m sure we’ll have to be at the top of our game to keep him quiet.”