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Scarlets great ‘Foxy’ set to leave after 16 seasons

Jonathan Davies with the Pro12 trophy in 2017

Scarlets great ‘Foxy’ set to leave after 16 seasons

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Jonathan Davies has announced he will be leaving the Scarlets at the end of the season, bringing down the curtain on a 16-year involvement with his home region over two spells.

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Having made his debut against Northampton Saints as an 18-year-old in 2006, he has gone on to make 209 appearances in a Scarlets jersey and was a key figure in the side that lifter the Guinness PRO12 title in 2017 with that fantastic win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

After winning age-grade honours, he graduated into the Wales senior side and eventually won 96 senior Welsh caps. His Wales debut came against Canada in Toronto in 2009 and he then when on to score twice in the 48-15 victory over the USA.

He started a record 48 Tests at centre for Wales with Jamie Roberts and one more with the Lions. He played in all six Tests on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia and the 2017 tour to New Zealand, where he was named as the player of the series for the Lions.

In November 2013, he swapped Parc Y Scarlets for Stade Marcel Michelin as he joined Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne on a two-year deal. He helped them to reach the 2015 Champions Cup final and was in the side that went down to Toulon in an all-French final at Twickenham.

“I’m going to miss this place and this group. Day to day, being around a great bunch of boys and saying you are working you feel very privileged,” said Jonathan ahead of Saturday’s final home match against Ulster.

“It has been incredible to play for a team I supported when I was a young boy. I have enjoyed every minute and have some wonderful memories, but everything has to come to an end.

“I remember my first day coming into the Academy at Stradey, I remember walking into the changing room for training with the likes, Vernon Cooper, Matthew Rees, Iestyn Thomas, Alix Popham – who were the ‘guvnors’ of the changing room – and putting my bag on the bench and coming in afterwards and it was on the floor.

“I tried another spot the next day and the same happened! it was a great learning; myself, Ken and my generation were probably the last ones to have experience of that old school environment.”

Recalling the highlights of his Scarlets career, lifting the PRO12 trophy in Dublin in 2017 figures at the top of the list, as does playing alongside his younger brother James.

“There was a span of five or six games during the end of that season when we won the PRO12 in which I never enjoyed rugby as much as I did then. I’ve always said, if we were still in European competition at that point we would have won it.

“The rugby we played was so much fun and so natural, we were operating at a level that we didn’t really need to talk about what was expected of us. It felt as if we were operating at our highest level possible and the talent in that group was so high it showed in the games leading up to the final and then in the final.

“Playing alongside my brother was another special moment and winning a trophy as part of the same side is something I’m very proud of.”

As for the future, Jonathan has a testimonial year beginning in June and is also hoping to continue his playing career.

“I would love to see if there is another opportunity to play elsewhere, whether that be abroad or not,” he added.

“I still enjoy coming to train and playing. I am always told you are a long time retired – if you feel you can add to an environment or a team, I feel I’d be stupid not to.

“The Scarlets have been a huge part of my life. When you get older there is an appreciation of the effort that people – coaches, team-mates, staff – have put into your career. The supporters here have been amazing from day one as well.”

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel played in the game in which Jonathan made his debut. He has since had the pleasure of both playing with and coaching one of the all-time greats of Scarlets rugby.

“There was a lot of talk of this kid from Bancyfelin coming through and when he turned up, he was more developed than some of the senior boys! He was strong and fast, and you could see straight away he was something special,” said Peel.

“He was always destined for big things, but he has also worked tirelessly on his game to become the best No. 13 in the world and is an example to any young player who aspires to make it as a professional.

“I’m sure the next few weeks will be an emotional time for him, saying his farewells. He has been a big part of this club for a long time.”

One of the most decorated centres of his era, he was in two Grand Slam winning sides, helped Wales secure a further two championship titles and played at two World Cups in New Zealand (2011) and Japan (2019) – helping Wales to finish fourth in both.

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Scarlets great ‘Foxy’ set to leave after 16 seasons