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Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Davies told to fill creative gap

Autumn internationals - Wales v Argentina
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 21 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC ONE Wales and online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and online, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live

Davies powers into Wales' midfield

Coach Warren Gatland says new boy Jonathan Davies, 21, could be the man to solve Wales' problems at centre.

There has been a perceived lack of creativity in the Wales midfield since Gavin Henson's departure, Tom Shanklin and Jamie Roberts seen as too similar.

Shanklin's nose injury opened the way for Davies to start against Argentina.

"If we're honest the midfield has not fired as we would've liked in the last two games, though we haven't had a lot of space to work with," said Gatland.

"It's disappointing that Tom's out, but it's a great chance for Jonathan.


"He's been playing well for the Scarlets, scoring tries. He's a young player and he's hugely talented."

Davies for Shanklin is the only switch from the side beaten by New Zealand at the start of the November Test series.

The Scarlets youngster won his first caps in starting both Tests on Wales' summer tour.

He scored two tries against the USA Eagles in Chicago and won praise from Gatland after he replaced the injured Shanklin in last week's win over Samoa, his third cap.

"There is no pressure on Jonathan," said Gatland, who admitted that he considered switching James Hook from full-back to centre after Shanklin's injury.

"It's just a case of getting out there and playing, enjoying himself and running hard.

I don't disagree with bringing Hook in to maybe create a spark but Davies has shown some form this season

Jeremy Guscott

"We know he's big, physical and quick and he has scored a lot of tries for the Scarlets.

"We are not giving him too many instructions, just to get out there and to enjoy himself."

Davies' introduction means that Jamie Roberts moves from the inside centre position where he won the British and Irish Lions player of the series award to outside centre.

"It's a chance for Jamie's development," said Gatland.

"He's still relatively inexperienced at international level. It's a chance to look at another combination and to give another possible option for the future.

"He did defend there against the All Blacks so it's not a huge change for him."

Wales' new midfield partnership was endorsed by former England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott.

"I'm glad to see Wales have picked Jonathan Davies to partner Roberts - he was my preference to come into the side before it was announced," he said in his BBC website column.

"I don't disagree with bringing Hook in to maybe create a spark but Davies has shown some form this season, he's scoring tries and he's aggressive in contact.

"He actually enjoys contact and he'll get over the gain line.

"Roberts and Davies can also swap as the ball carrier.

"I think Hook is starting to enjoy playing at full-back - he's just trying to get used to it, but it isn't going to be his long-term position."

Gatland explains midfield pairing

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see also
Wales 33-16 Argentina
21 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Rees on firm ground against Pumas
18 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
17 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Argentina scrum war brews
20 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Shanklin out of Argentina clash
16 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales holding fire on young guns
15 Nov 09 |  Welsh
England 16-9 Argentina
14 Nov 09 |  English
Wales 17-13 Samoa
13 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales 12-19 New Zealand
07 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Puma power: Argentinian rugby
16 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Argentina: Full record
28 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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