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Gethin Jenkins retains "driving hunger" to play a significant role for Wales

Published 18/02/2016

Prop Gethin Jenkins, pictured, remains an integral part of the Wales set-up under head coach Warren Gatland
Prop Gethin Jenkins, pictured, remains an integral part of the Wales set-up under head coach Warren Gatland

Front-row warrior Gethin Jenkins says he retains a "driving hunger" to be in the heat of battle for Wales.

The 35-year-old - Wales' most capped player with 121 Test match appearances - has found himself playing an unfamiliar bench support role during this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Scarlets loosehead prop Rob Evans commanded rave reviews following strong displays against Ireland and Scotland, when Wales' set-piece game thrived.

It has meant Jenkins providing back-up, rather than starting, yet he remains an integral part of Wales' matchday 23.

"It has been different from what I've been used to over the past couple of years, but I've enjoyed it," he said.

"Rob has gone really well, and I am enjoying supporting him and trying to make an impact off the bench.

"It's quite hard watching. There is a different kind of nerves. When you start, you know what to expect, but off the bench you have to just flick that switch when you get on.

"Rob has been outstanding in the first two games. He's quite a confident boy, and he has shown that with the way he has played.

"He is still young at international level, but he's learning every week. He takes stuff on board, he's a strong scrummager and he carries very well around the field.

"He is only going to get better, and that's good for Wales that they have someone coming through who will hopefully be there for the next 10 years.

"You never like losing your jersey. There wasn't any discontent, but you've still lost your jersey.

"After a day or two you have to get over it and get behind the guy who is in the jersey. It still hasn't stopped my driving hunger to be in that loosehead shirt."

Jenkins, who this week signed a new one-year contract with Cardiff Blues, is enjoying a role he describes as "definitely different" to what he as been used to throughout the majority of a 14-year international career highlighted by helping Wales win four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams.

"Coming into the campaign, I didn't know what to expect," he added.

"I didn't know whether I would be starting or Rob or Paul (James) would be starting. Once that decision was made, I suppose my role did change a bit.

"I've had plenty of dialogue with 'Gats' (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) about where I'm going to go over the next year or so, so my mindset changed.

"But I've played half-an-hour in both games, so you are still relied on to go out there and do a job. Your main role is to support the guy who is starting, who is Rob.

"I've still got something to offer, even if I am on the bench. I am as hungry as ever to pull that Welsh jersey on.

"I've been playing a lot of rugby over the Christmas period, and I am still really enjoying it. I am looking forward to next week, and I will hopefully continue to put Rob under pressure."

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