Gethin Jenkins: “Saturday will be a lot closer than people expect”

Occasionally when a team is on a roll, it is easy for their supporters and backers to get wrapped up in the rush of enthusiasm. Jonathan Davies may have said Wales would “absolutely go to town” on England two weeks ago, but come Saturday there’s little doubt he’ll be more restrained. At least, that’s how Gethin Jenkins sees it.

“There’s a lot of talk in the media as always but as players we just don’t concentrate on that. We’ve only won once at Twickenham in 23 years, back in 2008. If we do win and go three out of three it would be massive. But I think it will be a lot tighter than people are predicting given the individual talent on both sides.”

One of those rare areas where Wales do need to improve their game is at the lineout, where the return to fitness of Lions second row Alun Wyn Jones is welcomed. “It’s a big boost. Ryan (Jones) did a good job out of position against Scotland, whereas Alun-Wyn played there throughout the whole World Cup and has worked hard to get back fit. Lineouts are a very complicated part of the game; it’s not just about winning your ball but manipulating the opposition as well. The confidence is there to pull it off so hopefully that can happen this weekend.”

When it comes to Jenkins’ specialist area of the set-piece, there is an open respect for his opponent on Saturday, the England and Leicester tighthead prop Dan Cole. “I’m a big admirer of his. He’s a good tighthead who plays at a club who love their scrums and he’s starting to chalk up the England caps now at a relatively young age. It’ll be the first time we’ve faced each other so I’m looking forward to it.”

Whoever you support, it’s hard to deny the quality in this Welsh side. For the Toulon bound prop, Wales are ominously yet to reach their peak, especially with their monster young backs in Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, George North and Alex Cuthbert. “We’re still very disappointed with the World Cup, where we missed out on a good chance. There’s no resting on our laurels in terms of developing and improving each facet of our game.”

“It’s good to have those guys who you know will get you over the gain line. It’ll be up to the pack this weekend though to give them enough ball to exploit. We haven’t pinpointed anyone in particular from England because they all ply their trade in the Premiership which is a tough league. We’re all aware of the qualities they can bring, so whatever team they put out is going to be strong.”

by Ben Coles

Gethin Jenkins was speaking on behalf of GUINNNESS. To win the chance to represent your country at the 2012 GUINNESS Rugby Challenge, visit GUINNESS is an Official Partner of the Welsh Rugby Union.