13th September 2017, 14:43
MEET THE TEAM: Courtney Davies
As we continue our countdown to Rugby League World Cup 2017, Gloucestershire All Golds' Courtney Davies is the latest player in focus in our series.
Growing up in South Wales, Davies began his rugby career in union with the likes of Aberavon Green Stars, Hartpury College and the Ospreys.
However, it was league that provided his path into the professional ranks.
Courtney rans out for the All Golds at Parc Stebonheath
He started out in the 13-man code with local club Neath Port Talbot Steelers, who used to play in the Rugby League Conference Welsh Premier.
From there, he went on to play for both Crusaders RL and South Wales Scorpions - now known as the Ironmen - in their respective academy set-ups.
Davies has also represented and captained Wales at U16s, U18s, U19s and U20s when he was younger.
18 at the time, he made his first strides in professional rugby league with Scorpions in 2012.
During the season, he appeared for South Wales on six occasions and was able to learn from up-and-coming Super League stars who were on dual-registration with the club from Wigan Warriors.
The following year, he played in a further 11 matches for Scorpions, but he was on the move at the of the season.
For 2014, he linked up with London Skolars, who had made it to the play-off semi-final and Northern Bowl final the previous season, and were hoping to build on their achievements.
After making 16 appearances, scoring four tries and kicking 25 goals for Skolars in 2014, he signed for Gloucestershire All Golds.
The All Golds finished ninth in 2015, ahead of all their southern rivals, and Davies contributed six tries and three goals in 14 appearances.
Following the conclusion of his club campaign, he was rewarded with his first call-up for Wales' senior team.
He featured in Wales' European Championship matches against Scotland, France and Ireland, contributing points in all three.
Courtney in action for Wales against Jamaica
The 23-year-old kicked three goals against Scotland, scored a try and kicked a goal against Ireland and landed five conversions in Ireland.
When you consider that Davies and his halfback partner Ollie Olds were up against established halves in Scotland's Danny Brough, France's William Barthau and Theo Fages and Ireland's Liam Finn, it made their European Championship campaign even more impressive and their performances went a long way towards Wales lifting the trophy.
He started 2016 with Gloucestershire All Golds and made nine appearances at the start of the season, but he moved on midway through the campaign.
Davies joined South Wales Scorpions for a second spell and featured for the club on eight occasions towards the back end of the season.
In the autumn, he was once again given the nod by John Kear and linked up with the Wales squad.
He started at six in the World Cup Qualifiers against Serbia and Italy and the full international with Jamaica at Wakefield's Belle Vue Stadium.
Courtney, his parents and grampa with his framed Wales shirts
As well as tries against Serbia and Jamaica, Davies chipped in with some important goals and highlighted that he plays some of his best rugby in a Wales shirt.
On the club front, with South Wales rebranding as the Ironmen for 2017, the halfback was set to be a key part of a side that had been tipped to make big strides on the pitch.
However, the Ironmen experienced off-the-field issues and Davies opted to move back to Gloucestershire All Golds for a second spell, joining the club back in June.
Now that he has been named in John Kear's train-on squad for Rugby League World Cup 2017, he will be hoping to make the final cut.
"Going back to my first cap for Wales two years ago, I knew that the World Cup was on the horizon," Davies said.
"I've been looking forward to it for the last two years and aiming to get a place.
"To go out to Australia and play against some great teams would be one hell of an experience.
"When I went for my jabs for Papua New Guinea, incase I make the squad, they wondered why I would be going out there and then I explained why. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"I love playing for Wales. You're playing at a higher level and it's always made easier because a lot of the lads play at the top level, are experienced and get on with their jobs.
"Playing in a team that has gone unbeaten has been a massive confidence boost for me.
"Hopefully, we can keep that level of performance going as we head into the World Cup."
Name: Courtney Davies
Current club: Gloucestershire All Golds
Junior club: Neath Port Talbot Steelers
Eligibility: Born in Neath, South Wales
Date of birth: 01/07/1994
Welsh heritage: #502; Wales caps: 6; Wales tries: 3; Wales goals: 16; Wales points: 44; first Wales appearance: 16/10/15; last Wales appearance: 29/10/16
YOU CAN SEE COURTNEY'S FULL WALES RECORD HERE
YOU CAN FOLLOW COURTNEY ON TWITTER: @CourttDavies7
YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW HIM ON INSTAGRAM: @courttdavies7
Wales group matches at Rugby League World Cup 2017 are as follows:
PAPUA NEW GUINEA V WALES
Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
FIJI V WALES
WALES V IRELAND
Perth Rectangular Stadium
Get behind the lads at the World Cup by purchasing the new replica kit! Visit the online shop HERE.
Article by Ryan Gould
Images from Courtney Davies and Ian Lovell