I FELT LIKE PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1, ADMITS LION DAVIES
JONATHAN Davies realised the depth of feeling caused by his controversial Lions selection over Brian O'Driscoll when he received social media threats to break his legs.
The Scarlets man had performed outstandingly on the tour, hitting career-best form and proving the most impressive of the four specialist centres Warren Gatland had chosen for the trip.
But after the Welshman got the nod ahead of O'Driscoll for the decisive third Test, the 1st Battalion Blockheads marshalled their forces and assailed him via Twitter with a variety of intimidatory remarks.
It was a nasty little sub-plot that left the 25-year-old feeling like Public Enemy No. 1.
All because he had played exceptionally well at rugby.
He said: "There was a lot of stuff on Twitter but I didn't take too much notice of it.
"I spoke to Mike Phillips about it and he told me to ignore it and not let it bother me.
"I had a fair bit of abuse, with people wanting to break my legs, but I didn't really care.
"I just wanted to run out for the Lions and do everything I could to achieve success.
"I felt like Public Enemy No.1 before the third Test, but though there was a lot of pressure I enjoyed it — loved every minute.
"Brian congratulated me afterwards, saying: 'We've done it.' It was a huge thing for him to get a Lions series win on his CV.
"As a squad we were very tight and that showed at the end when the celebrations started.
"There were a few (Twitter critics) but you try to use that as a positive.
"I had great support as well. I had good people around me."
Davies has had six weeks off after his exertions with the Lions — almost a sabbatical in rugby terms — and he is feeling refreshed and looking forward to his return to the fray.
Like several other front-line Wales players, he is out of contract at the end of the season, so he will have a decision to make over whether to stay in regional rugby or look further afield.
The certainty is he will not be short of offers.
He added extra dimensions to his game on the Lions tour, showing a subtlety to complement his powerful running and solid defence.
Northampton Saints reportedly pursued him before he signed his present contract for the Scarlets, and after his exploits Down Under he is bound to attract significant interest from outside Wales again.
But he insists there is plenty of time to mull over his options yet.
Asked about his contract situation, he said: "I've only just started training and haven't really thought about it.
"You just have to wait and see.
"I've been away from the club on holiday.
"If the club and my goals in the next few years are the same I would be more than happy to stay."
Sides are sure to watch Davies more closely this season, though with Wales he believes there is just a chance the focus will be elsewhere.
"When teams have to think about Jamie (Roberts), George (North) and Cuthy (Alex Cuthbert), I think I can scoot under the radar," he laughed.
"I will take whatever comes and just keep trying to improve.
"If teams target me then that will be their game plan and hopefully it will free up space for other people."
He expects his old mate North to have no trouble settling in at his new club Northampton.
"I think he will start with a bang," said Davies.
"He's only 21 and with what he has achieved in the last few years . . . if Northampton use him well he will be very effective.
"It's a huge loss, as he's one of the best players in world rugby.
"I wish him well. I'm just glad Northampton are not in our Heineken Cup group."
Others will be pleased they don't have to face Davies this term, either.