By Ossian Shine
TOKYO (Reuters) – Wales are confident centre Jonathan Davies will be fit to return for their rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa on Sunday, skills coach Neil Jenkins told reporters on Wednesday.
“Jon will be fine on the day, he’ll be fine. He trained most of the week last week as well, but didn’t feel he was quite right. But it is an important game on Sunday and we need all hands on deck to get through that match.”
The 31-year old was ruled out of Wales’s 20-19 quarter-final win over France with a recurrence of a knee injury which he had aggravated against Fiji, and was replaced by Ospreys’ Owen Watkin.
“Owen stepped up and he’s been there before for us, he’s an exceptional talent and did pretty well on Sunday, but again Jon is a world class player and you need your world class players fit.
“These games don’t come around very often, I think sometimes if your leg’s hanging off you strap it to yourself to get yourself right, and I’m sure (he’ll) do that this week.”
The Welsh have won their last four matches against the Springboks, but Jenkins reflected on the two nation’s overall head-to-head record to illustrate the size of their task. Of the 35 matches played, South Africa have won 28, with one drawn and six wins for the Welsh.
The last Springbok win came in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals.
“They’re South Africa, an outstanding side. Uncompromising, very tough, very physical with some hugely talented players as well especially on that back line, both wingers are exceptional wingers with footwork, speed … both centres are very direct, very tough.
“Then you’ve got Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk who will control things, both exceptional players, so it’s a very, very tough game for us.
“You know we’ve done pretty well against them for the last few years … it’s nice to get across the line and actually beat South Africa, I wouldn’t say our record is brilliant in history against them, but obviously has been over the last few years.
“We’ve been working incredibly hard all summer to get ourselves right for this moment, really, it’s what we dream about, being in a semi-final, being involved in a World Cup final.”
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)