Former Queensland Reds speedster Rod Davies in flight.
Former Queensland Reds speedster Rod Davies in flight. DAN PELED

Rod Davies rocketing to stardom

THEY shared a birthplace, a Christian name and were given the same nickname - one for his blistering tennis serves and one for his spellbinding pace.

Rod Laver, dubbed the Rockhampton Rocket, earned his place in tennis history by winning the sport's Grand Slam twice - still the only man to achieve the feat.

Almost five decades later, Rod Davies, who was also born in the central Queensland city, wrote his own sporting fairytale by winning the 2011 Super Rugby title with the Queensland Reds.

Davies was also given the nickname Rocket after scorching over the 100m in 10.81 secs at just 17.

The rugby star is about to move to Japan to take up a lucrative contract after two years in France, and spoke to Australian Regional Media's JOSH SPASARO about his career, and playing overseas.

ROD Davies had the world at his feet after making his Wallabies debut and playing a key role in Queensland's run to the Super Rugby title in 2011.

At just 22, he had delivered on all his potential and helped put Queensland rugby back on the map.

"I get goosebumps when I look back on 2011 - what a year. I'll never forget it," he said from his home-away-from-home on the west coast of France.

"We changed rugby in Queensland that year - all of a sudden we were all over the back pages of the paper and everyone wanted to talk about the Reds.

"We had an amazing team and the thing which helped us was there were a lot of guys who were in their early-20s who I played representative schoolboy rugby with (including Wallabies star Quade Cooper)."

Davies had been an outstanding junior sportsperson while growing up in Rockhampton.

As well as starring at rugby and rugby league, he had also excelled at boxing and athletics.

But like a finely-tuned racehorse, he copped more than his fair share of injuries.

"Rod's father drove him down from Rockhampton to give him the opportunity to attend Ipswich Grammar in Year 9 - they lived out of a caravan," the director of sport and head of track field at Ipswich Grammar School, Nigel Greive recalled.

"He broke his arm in a rugby league club game, and there was another time when his knee collapsed and he needed a reconstruction.

"He had signed at the Broncos and was touted to get a run at 19 because they knew how electrifying he was with his blinding pace, fend, swerve and step. But there was a logjam of talent at the Broncos so he came back to rugby.

"There's no doubt he made the right decision to pursue a rugby career - he took every opportunity with both hands."

Talent is only half the equation of course, and in Davies' case he also had the other ingredient necessary for success - the right attitude.

"Rod never got a big head - his father always kept him very well grounded," Alex McArdle, the manager of Davies' First XV team at Ipswich Grammar, said.

Davies' Super Rugby title and Test debut came after a horror run in 2010 when constant hamstring problems ruined his campaign.

Injuries resurfaced in the final game of 2013 when he sustained what sports doctors call the "Terrible Triad".

He tore the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, as well as the lateral collateral ligament in his knee.

He also wiped out the meniscus - the damage requiring a full knee reconstruction.

"That was tough because I'd had a really good year and was pushing for higher honours, so that hurt me - and it was mentally draining," he said.

"But I did really well to come back from that in six or seven months."

And with his hard work came a welcome dose of good fortune.

After managing just 58 games for the Reds in six seasons, he said maybe it was because he "touched wood" when he arrived at Biarritz after the 2014 Super Rugby season, when explaining his injury-free two years in France.

"To have two injury-free years here and play over 50 games has been very rewarding," said Davies, who recently welcomed his first son, Chace Raymond, into the world with fiancee Haylee.

Not surprisingly, being injury free helped him be the leading try-scorer for Biarritz in both seasons, with the 2015-16 campaign set to end on Monday morning.

Hopefully the run can continue, with the next chapter of his career set to take him to Japan.

As revealed by Australian Regional Media, Davies recently signed a lucrative two-year contract to play for the Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars, in Tokyo.

Davies still has high ambitions in rugby and, like in France, he won't be going to Japan for a holiday.

"I don't want to end my career after my contract is up in Japan - I want to keep playing after that," he said.

"The beaches in Biarritz are amazing and the French lifestyle is laid-back.

"The Japanese culture will be different - they're big on discipline. But I'm looking forward to it.

"For a kid who grew up in Rockhampton, I'm very fortunate to have been able to travel the world and live in France, and soon Japan."

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