French clubs ‘have not improved stars’

Vern Cotter

During his last season in charge of Clermont Auvergne – 2013-14 – current Scotland coach Vern Cotter coached Jonathan Davies

Wales coach Warren Gatland says none of his France-based players have become better players by crossing the Channel.

He says it is “great” that Jonathan Davies is returning to the Scarlets after two years at Clermont Auvergne.

Centre Davies will win his 50th cap when he lines up alongside Harlequins’ Jamie Roberts, formerly of Racing 92, against Scotland on Saturday.

“I don’t believe that any of our players have improved going to France,” said Gatland.

“So the fact Jonathan has decided to come back home and we can have more hands-on with him and work with him… hopefully we will see him getting back to where he was and improving his game.”

Gatland is looking forward to seeing Davies continue his “pretty special” midfield partnership with Roberts when Wales play their first home game of the Six Nations.

He added: “Hopefully, he has another 50 caps in him if his body can stay fit.”

Scotland coach Vern Cotter was Clermont coach during Davies’ first season there and expected the 2013 British and Irish Lion to improve in the Top 14.

Racing 92 lock Luke Charteris is also part of Wales’ France-based contingent, while record cap holder Gethin Jenkins, who is on the bench against Scotland, spent the 2012-13 season at Toulon.

Injured full-back Leigh Halfpenny is expected to remain at Toulon beyond the end of this season having attracted interest from Scarlets and former team Blues.

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James Hook, who was in the World Cup squad last year but was not selected for the Six Nations, is at Gloucester after impressing while at Perpignan.

Scarlets backs coach Stephen Jones played for Gatland’s Wales after returning from Clermont Auvergne, while fellow former Wales captains Gareth Thomas and Colin Charvis also played in France.

Davies has signed a national dual contract in which the Welsh Rugby Union will pay 60% of his salary with Scarlets funding the rest.

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