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Jonathan Davies calls for Welsh influence in Lions squad

Jonathan Davies calls for Welsh influence in Lions squad
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Morgan Knowles, Regan Grace and Ben Flower are names mentioned by the dual-code international.

Dual-code international Jonathan Davies has welcomed the return of the Great Britain team and is hoping the tour to the southern hemisphere later this year will have Welsh representation.

The Lions have been mothballed since 2007 but will tour New Zealand for the first time since 1996 in October and, although Davies expects Wayne Bennett's squad to be England-dominated, he argues the case for the rest of the home nations.

"We've got a couple of Welsh boys doing quite well," Davies told Press Association Sport.

Rugby League – Gillette Fusion Test Series – Round 3 – Great Britain v New Zealand – JJB Stadium
Great Britain celebrate a series victory over New Zealand in 2007, shortly before the team was mothballed (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

"Morgan Knowles is going well and you've also got Regan Grace from St Helens playing well.

"If Ben Flower of Wigan can regain his form, maybe he would be in and half-backs have always been an issue so Danny Brough could be there, who knows?

"I've got fond memories of playing for Great Britain and, even though it will be predominantly English players, it's good to get the brand going again.

Wigan Warriors v St Helens – Betfred Super League – DW Stadium
St Helens winger Regan Grace could provide Welsh representation in the re-formed Great Britain team (Dave Howarth/PA)

"I know they have to split the teams up for the World Cup which has been great, but it is great to see it come back.

"It would be nice to see representatives from different countries but you've got to pick your best players, you can't be giving token caps, you've got to earn them."

Davies, the former Widnes and Warrington stand-off who won 10 caps for Great Britain from 1989-94, has retained an involvement in rugby league through his work with the BBC and is on the Steve Prescott Man of Steel selection panel.

Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers – Betfred Super League – Halliwell Jones Stadium
Warrington stand-off Blake Austin is the front runner in the Man of Steel voting (Simon Cooper/PA)

"I watch more rugby league now than when I was playing, because there is more access and it's nice to be involved," he said.

"Blake Austin from Warrington is the stand-out player this year and a lot of the Saints players are going well but they are sharing the workload so it's difficult to pick one man out.

"Saints are clearly playing well. They've got tempo and they don't seem to fall off at stages in the game, that's why they are the best.

HUNTE, DAVIES, JOYNTE CELEBRATE
Jonathan Davies (centre) celebrates Great Britain's victory over Australia at Wembley in 1994 with Alan Hunte and Chris Joynt (John Stilwell/PA)

"I'm just hoping the level improves throughout the competition."

Davies was at Warrington on Sunday to watch his old club beat Wigan in the Coral Challenge Cup and, with Ellery Hanley, made the quarter-final draw which paired them with Hull KR.

The crowd for last year's final at Wembley was the lowest for a generation but Davies insists the Challenge Cup remains rugby league's crown jewel and believes some minor alterations could quickly re-establish its appeal.

"I think they need to put the cup games on the season tickets to help boost the attendances," he said.

Catalans Dragons v Warrington Wolves – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup – Final – Wembley Stadium
Empty seats during the 2018 Challenge Cup final at Wembley but the competition remains rugby league's crown jewel (Adam Davy/PA)

"It's still a special competition and, if they move the final away from the school holidays, it might make a difference.

"We used to play the early rounds and, all of a sudden, at the end of May it's the final.

"Once you get into August, the whole country stops, it's the time people go away."

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