Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Jenkins focused only on victory

Neil Jenkins says that Wales will be concentrated totally on winning - rather than potential mathematical permutations - when they tackle RBS 6 Nations opponents Italy at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Wales, courtesy of successive victories over Scotland, France and Ireland, have put themselves firmly in the Six Nations title mix alongside England and Ireland.

Although Wales' inferior points difference means they have a mountain to climb in pursuit of silverware, a possible third Six Nations crown in four years cannot be discounted.

Wales are first into action on so-called Super Saturday, with Ireland then tackling Scotland before England host France.

"The main objective and focus for us is obviously winning a Test match. If other things happen, well, so be it," said Wales skills coach Jenkins, speaking at the team's Rome hotel on Friday.

"I am sure that we will be kicking ourselves if we didn't win and the other games went Scotland's way and France's way.

"The main objective is to win the game, and see where that takes us.

"England will know what they have to do when they play last on Saturday, but no matter what time you play, the focus is still the same for us. We have to win the game and win another Test match."

Italy's preparations have been rocked by the absence of their inspirational captain Sergio Parisse through injury, which has meant the Azzurri back-row being reshuffled and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini taking over as skipper.

"Sergio is obviously a fantastic rugby player, a world-class number eight, and no matter what side he plays in, if he is not playing they are obviously going to miss him," Jenkins added.

"We played them two years ago in Rome and Sergio didn't play, and they were pretty strong. Conditions weren't great that day, but it was a pretty tough Test match.

"He played pretty well against us in Cardiff last year and caused us an awful lot of problems. He is a world-class player, and any team would miss him.

"I think Italy have played some good rugby in the competition.

"It was nip and tuck with Ireland early on in that first game, and Italy probably just lacked a bit of possession. They played some good rugby against England, and then had a fantastic win in Edinburgh.

"They will probably say themselves they were disappointed with their performance last week against France.

"But look, every time we come here it is a very tough game. Generally, we have been successful, but not by much, so we are expecting another tough game tomorrow."

Key for Wales will be to set out their stall and build points, like they did in destroying Ireland's Grand Slam dream last Saturday.

"We started incredibly well last week and ticked the scoreboard over," Jenkins said.

"Up until Samson (Lee) got injured, which was a huge disappointment for us, it had been nigh-on perfect rugby. Territory, possession and everything we did was spot-on.

"The boys have recovered well. They know how important tomorrow is. It is an opportunity for us to go out and give ourselves a chance to try and win the championship."

Wales performed a title-winning feat in 2013 after losing their opening game - then it was against Ireland, this time England - by reeling off four successive victories and taking the championship on points difference.

While this season's equation is far more complex, the desire is unchanged.

"If you look at the Six Nations, the unpredictability is what's great about the tournament," Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny said.

"Every game is competitive, and that is why it's a huge achievement to win the Six Nations.

"All we can do is focus on our game in Rome. That's all we can do, before we wait and see what happens.

"If we go on to win it, it would give us that confidence and belief ahead of the World Cup."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph