Who’s the best outside centre?
- 08 Jan 2014
Two of our team members pick their No 13 for the SARugbymag.co.za Fans' World XV.
Some accused Warren Gatland of Welsh bias when he selected Davies ahead of Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll for the third and decisive game of the British & Irish Lions series against Australia. Davies' star was on the rise following an influential performance in a successful Six Nations campaign, while at 34, O'Driscoll's was unfortunately on the wane. Gatland backed the 25-year-old Wales centre for the crunch fixture in Sydney, and Davies repaid Gatland's faith with a brilliant display.
It was a standard of performance that was maintained, at least until Davies was seriously injured in the first Test of the November series against South Africa. Davies caused the Springbok defence a number of problems early in the game, bisecting the vastly experienced midfield combination of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie on two occasions. Davies will be sidelined for the duration of the 2014 Six Nations but should be back for Wales' tour to South Africa this June. No doubt the Boks will be better prepared this time round.
The likes of Fourie and the All Blacks' Conrad Smith have achieved more over the course of their long and decorated careers, but if one is to make the call based on performances in 2013, Davies is clearly the standout in this position.
In 2013, Smith captained a Hurricanes side that finished 10th on the combined Super Rugby log, but his dedication and passion for his team was unwavering, and he always ran his heart out.
Prior to his six-month sabbatical, which began after the Rugby Championship, Smith was once again his reliant and consistent self in the black No 13 jersey, constantly slicing through defences and rarely missing a tackle.
Smith’s performances in the mid-year Tests against France showed that his brilliance is not influenced by his age (32). His intelligence and quick reaction make him the best in the outside centre position.
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