A memorable debut to forget: Rocket Rod reflects on that Samoa Test ahead of Wallabies' re-match at Bankwest

International
by Iain Payten

If things work as planned for Rocket Rod Davies later this year, he’ll be part of an Aussie sevens team that books an Olympic berth by beating Samoa in the Oceania qualifiers.

The fact a win over Samoa could help Davies achieve a hugely significant goal in his rugby career isn’t lost on the 30-year-old speedster. 

Not after the role Samoa played in another other hugely significant rugby moment for Davies eight years ago - his Wallabies debut.

"It gets reminded to me pretty quickly,”  Davies said.

"If I am out for a beer or something, someone is always pretty cheeky to say something.”

With Samoa back in Sydney this week to play the Wallabies at Bankwest Stadium, it’ll be hard to escape the comparisons with the ambush laid on Australia by a fearsome Samoan team in 2011.

In a now infamous Test match also in western Sydney, Samoa downed a Wallabies team containing a mix of old and new faces - including Davies on debut.

With a series of bell-ringing hits, the Samoans hammered the Wallabies into submission and handed them an embarrassing 32-23 defeat. It was Samoa’s first win over the Wallabies.

"That Test was eight years ago now, so it was a long time ago,” Davies told RUGBY.com.au.

"But it was a day the Samoans were up for, I still believe it, they could have beaten anyone on that day. And we weren’t up for it. It was a classic of two stories there."

On this afternoon, Davies copped more bell-ringers than most. 

In footage that still gets spun around frequently, giant Samoan winger Alesana Tuilagi was marking Davies and he made the young Queensland speedster feel every gram of their 35 kilogram weight difference.

"I played in France but thank God I never got the opportunity to play against him again. He definitely got one up on me that day,” Davies laughs.

Davies had received a well-deserved call-up to the Wallabies Test team in 2011 after his sizzling speed on the wing helped the Queensland Reds win the Super Rugby title only seven days beforehand.

A hamstring injury to James O’Connor opened the door for a spot in the run-on team. 

Capped as Wallaby 851, Davies was one of five debutants - alongside Nick Phipps, Sitaleki Timani, Beau Robinson and James Hanson - but it was to be his one and only Test.

"I was probably still a bit hungover from the grand final to be honest. We don’t have that (problem) this year,” Davies jokes.

"I would have loved to have more Tests and whatnot but that Test, it stopped a few careers in its path.

"Like I said those guys were up for it that day and credit to them. The Test out here at Bankwest, I will definitely be flicking on TV and I’ll be watching it.”

Robinson was another who never got another chance after the Samoa loss, and probably most famously, Matt Giteau never played for Robbie Deans again after the loss and didn’t go to the World Cup.

The no.10 had the Samoa Test - his 92nd - listed as his last until 2015, when Michael Cheika resurrected his Test career.

Davies remains proud that he represented the Wallabies, albeit in a forgettable Test for all concerned.

"I toured with the squad in 2010 as well, and I got a few midweek matches over there in England and also in Ireland,” Davies said. 

"It all happened pretty quick, blink of an eye and it went quick. I was 20-21, so it was pretty early on in my career and would I love to have that time back again? Yes I would. Would I have liked to be a bit older, yes. 

"But I am here now and I am in another national team and I am 30, so I am a bit more level headed now and this is a great honour too, being in another national team.”

After returning from overseas to play for the Western Force, Davies has recently joined the Australian sevens program on a two-year deal. 

He is loving life in the shortened version of the game and is still as elusive as ever.

In both sevens and fifteens, Samoa remain a highly dangerous prospect, particularly if due respect isn’t paid.

Davies said the only advice he’d offer the 2019 Wallabies for their Samoa clash is to ensure they’re switched on.

“It’s just that complacency isn’t it? Any team on the day can play at that level (and win),” Davies said.

"Especially them coming back from France, a lot of them had had big years in France and big years in England. They had a pretty good named squad that year and they were red-hot that day."

The Wallabies take on Samoa at Bankwest Stadium, on Saturday at 7.30pm. LIVE coverage on Foxtel, Kayo Sports, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.