10:04am Friday 30th May 2014
IF WALES Under-20s need a lift at the Junior World Championship then imposing teenage lock Joe Davies will provide it if his family background is anything to go by.
The Newport Gwent Dragons forward is the son of Andrew Davies, a former weightlifter who won silver at the 1989 World Championships in Athens, bronze at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986 and gold in Auckland in 1990 and later turned to coaching to help Michaela Breeze win two Commonwealth golds for Wales.
With that CV it's no surprise that his lad turned out to be a player more suited to the boilerhouse than nipping around with ball in hand.
"I started weights at an early age with my dad and my older brother Jake, who is a weightlifter" said Davies, who is from Caldicot.
"We've got a gym at the top of the garden that my granddad built and that has helped me a lot in terms of technique."
Davies' frame means that he is making rapid progress and will be a key figure in the tight five at the Junior World Championship despite being just 18.
The Newport High School student, who will sit three biology exams in New Zealand, made nine appearances for Bedwas this season and also turned out twice for the Dragons in the LV= Cup.
He said: "I never expected any of this because at the start of the year my aim was to try and play some Premiership rugby.
"But I made by Dragons debut at Parc y Scarlets at 17, played against Wasps the next week, played in the Six Nations for the Under-20s and now I'm going to the Junior World Championship. I was speechless when I was selected."
Davies is highly-rated by his Dragons coaches and signed a three-year deal with the region in February along with fellow bright prospects Hallam Amos, Elliot Dee and Tyler Morgan.
The Wales Under-20s management team are also big fans and expect him to be a key figure over the coming weeks.
"We don't have many big men like him in Wales," said defence coach Richard Hodges. "He is 125 kilos and if he hits people with that weight then it is going to hurt.
"He has got some work-ons defensively but that's normal for his age; it's just from a technical point of view tackling with his shoulders and sternum to make a bigger impact.
"He is very young and will be in the Under-20s environment for another two years but he has earned himself a starting spot at the moment and it's his to lose.
"His fitness has gone through the roof in the last month and that will be a constant battle because he is such a big man.
"Joe's work ethic means that he has a very good shot at making it and I am sure the Dragons will look after him in his transition from academy to first team. He is in a good environment to kick on and Welsh rugby should be extremely pleased to have him in the system."
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