Capturing Lions

David Davies talks to Sky Sports rugby union writer Tony Curtis about his fourth tour with the British and Irish Lions.

By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC.   Last Updated: 22/05/13 5:02am

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While Sam Warburton and Co are putting their final touches ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour, David Davies has already got his kit packed.

However unlike the famous Davies namesakes from Lions history - Gerald, Merv, Phil, Dai et al - you are unlikely to see David in front of the camera... well unless you look really, really hard.

For David Davies, the trip to Australia will represent his fourth Lions tour of duty as a photographer with the Press Association and his second Down Under.

Having joined the Press Association in 2001, his first major role saw him follow Graham Henry's Lions to Australia, while he has been an avid follower ever since.

"It is my fourth tour so I have gone full circle," Davies told Sky Sports.

"My first was in 2001 to Australia and I have done the other two in between going back this time. It will actually be my third trip to Australia as I also did the 2003 World Cup.

"I do all of PA's rugby and have done for 12 years since I first joined, however I have been fending people off for the Lions tour, though, as there are plenty that want to do it."

Impact

A lifetime behind the lens following arguably the most famous side in world rugby has meant Davies has been able to enjoy the highs and lows of the Lions like few others.

And Davies has been able to build up an impressive collection of memories - and photographs - along the way.

"The Brisbane Test in 2001 stands out for me," said Davies, who played at half-back before realising that his talents lay pitch side.

"They all do when you win but it was my first Test. The Lions made a massive impact in those first few minutes and I was able to get Jason Robinson's try and his celebrations. If you watch the replays on Sky the flash of a guy in a yellow jacket is me, so that is good to show the kids.

Dan Carter answers Davies' prayers and dives over for his second try in front of him

"Then there is Dan Carter's try in the second Test in 2005. I was starting to get a bit concerned as he had scored at the other end so you start hoping that you have a half-decent shot of him but he then goes and saves the day for me and scores on my side. I am not sure the Lions were as happy as me, though!

One of Davies' favourite pictures, Simon Shaw is halted in his tracks during the second Test

"The shot of Simon Shaw in South Africa is special as it is very rare to see the Lions play a Test in daylight, what with the time difference in Australia and New Zealand. The game will stand out as one of the great games despite the result.

"It was such a high quality and such a hard, physical game and it was in glorious light so the colours really stand out. To get a nice picture of Shawsy was good as he had an immense game.

Davies get his positioning right to capture a dejected Lewis Moody walking past the New Zealand celebrations

"For the Lewis Moody dejection shot in 2005, the All Blacks were doing an impromptu group picture and although my positioning wasn't ideal for that, from the PA angle we focus on the British and Irish Lions so Lewis Moody wandering across really made the picture."

Frustrating

Having spent around 18 weeks in the close and personal confines of a tour rubbing shoulders with some of the best players the Home Unions have produced, Davies has also been able to capture some of the behind the scenes action - such as his profile of Phil Vickery and the haka at Christchurch.

Davies goes behind the scenes for the Christchurch School Haka in 2005

However he admits that it is getting harder in the professional era to get the same access as afforded on previous tours.

"You don't often get the old fashioned tour photos now," he admitted. "The Lions are pretty elusive. You get a 10-minute window of shots at the start of training, where the players are stretching but not doing a lot else.

"It can be frustrating but you can understand it to a certain degree. A lot of money is spent on the tour and they don't want to be seen not to be taking it seriously. They are also there to win a Test series."

For Davies, though, it would take a hell of a lot to take the shine off the job he loves - and he is relishing the chance to return to Australia.

"It will be nice to go back to Stadium Australia as it will be the first time I've been back since the World Cup in 2003," he said.

"I didn't go to the Suncorp before so I am looking forward to going there, while I had a lucky corner in Melbourne in 2003 so it will be good to be back.

"I got a really nice picture of Brian O'Driscoll scoring a try against Australia there, then a week later I got Joe Rokocoko scoring in the same place - I joked with the groundsman that I wanted to take that piece of turf with me."

Despite having completed the hat-trick of Lions destinations, Davies has yet to see a series victory for the famed tourists.

However, even if the Class of 2013 can end his personal drought, Davies has no intention of packing away his camera in celebration.

"I can resist everything but temptation," he said. "I am sure when the question gets asked in four years time, 'who wants to go to New Zealand' my hand will be the first one in the air."

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