Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Jenkins dismisses title talk

Neil Jenkins expects Wales to take each game as it comes
Neil Jenkins expects Wales to take each game as it comes

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins insists the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions are in no danger of being distracted by a potential title shoot-out with England next month.

Jenkins has history when it comes to wrecking English Grand Slam dreams after the former Wales fly-half converted Scott Gibbs' dramatic late try to sink Sir Clive Woodward's team 32-31 at Wembley 14 years ago. If Wales beat Scotland in Edinburgh next week - and England defeat Italy at Twickenham - then it will be all on for March 16 at the Millennium Stadium.

England are in the driving seat, given that they already boast a superior points difference to Wales with Italy still on their schedule, but Wales could still secure Six Nations silverware for a second successive season. "The main focus for us is to win our games, starting against Scotland, which we know is going to very tough," Jenkins said.

Skills and kicking specialist Jenkins added: "There is no thought or mention of England a week later. When that comes around it will bring enough pressures with it. Our focus is on Scotland and about doing a job there.

"They (Scotland) are the same as us - two wins out of three - and it is a home game for them. They will fancy their chances against us and then to go to Paris on the final day with a chance of maybe them winning the championship.

"It was an excellent win for them on the weekend against Ireland. People talked afterwards about stats and possession, but if you have got the ball you have got to take your chances. Ireland didn't take their opportunities on Sunday, and Scotland kept hanging in there, dug in and kicked their kicks."

The Wales players, except the France-based squad members, were back in camp on Tuesday, with an update awaited on Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins' calf muscle injury. Jenkins, who is three games short of becoming Wales' fourth international cap centurion behind Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas and Martyn Williams, was hurt during the 26-9 victory over Italy in Rome last weekend.

"We probably won't know for another couple of days, and hopefully we will then get the full extent of where he is at with his injury," Neil Jenkins added. "It was a tough game. Conditions were very tough, but in terms of bodies being battered and bruised it is no different to any other week.

"And it was brilliant from our point of view to see players like Alun-Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton coming back from injuries. We've always said the more players that are fit and playing well, the more selection headaches for (interim head coach) Rob (Howley) and the staff.

"Alun-Wyn is a fantastic player, and so is Sam. For them to be coming back and putting pressure on, we are quite lucky. It's good for the team."

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