THE phrase ‘front up’ appears to have fallen out of favour in rugby.

It’s a shame, because Jonathan Davies seems to have spent most of 2013 doing just that.

The Scarlets centre has found himself under intense scrutiny on more than one occasion.

That he is heading for the beach for a well-earned rest as a Six Nations winner and Lions series victor says it all about the 25-year-old’s character and resolve.

Back in February Davies sat with his arms folded and a frown on his face when reflecting on a horror display against Ireland, when Wales had lost their eighth successive Test.

The outside centre had flung two passes into touch leading to Mark Jones – his own backs coach with Wales and the Scarlets – to describe him as “not a natural passer”.

Malcolm Tucker, the media advisor from The Thick of It, would explode at such an eyebrow-raising comment, using expletives that would make Sean Edwards blush.

But Davies shrugged it off, admitted that it was part of his game that needed work and pledged to tackle his shortcomings with hard graft.

The centre was frank and backed those words up on the pitch in Paris, Rome, Edinburgh and finally Cardiff.

Davies, a key figure in Wales’ success in recent years, was once again to the fore as Wales retained their Six Nations crown.

Those performances ensured that he was a member of the Lions squad heading Down Under.

He probably headed to Australia as the fourth centre, behind Jamie Roberts, Brian O’Driscoll and Manu Tuilagi.

In fact, to outsiders a George North at 13 experiment could even have been considered more likely than Davies getting the nod.

But Davies did all that was asked of him in the warm-ups and, admittedly aided by injuries to Roberts and Tuilagi, started the Tests in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Then in Sydney he suddenly became public enemy number one.

He was the man who profited from a so-called scandalous decision to axe Brian O’Driscoll.

Irish sights were trained on Davies, he was under the microscope and any errors would be pounced upon.

No bother, he just quietly went about his business and played his part in a terrific victory.

It was such a comprehensive success that I am sure BOD would have looked better than he did in Tests one and two.

But the comprehensive success came about because of the likes of Davies; there were a number of players that quietly went about their business with efficiency. The Scarlets centre isn’t particularly flash, nor are Dan Lydiate, Adam Jones, Toby Faletau and Alun Wyn Jones.

They aren’t media darlings but give them a job and they will do it with no fuss. That’s why Gatland trusts them, that’s why Wales have been successful, that’s why the Lions battered Australia.

That no-frills style can lead to criticism when things are not going well.

And for Davies to deal with all that has been flung his way over the past six months and come out shining is to his eternal credit.

The Scarlets centre has come of age this summer and one thing is for sure, injury-permitting there will be no questions about who should be handed the number 13 jersey when Wales take on South Africa on November 9.