Jenkins out to silence critics
Published 21/02/2014 | 06:52
Gethin Jenkins is eager to prove the doubters wrong when Wales take on France at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.
The reigning RBS 6 Nations champions suffered a humiliating 26-3 defeat to Ireland 13 days ago to leave their title hopes in the balance ahead of the visit of the undefeated French.
This week's build-up has been dominated by Wales coach Warren Gatland delivering a no-nonsense reminder to his players about the standards required.
Star scrum-half Mike Phillips has been axed in favour of Rhys Webb - a Test rookie in comparison - and Jenkins is in no doubt that the experienced men in the dressing room need to step up to the plate if they are to bring a third straight crown to the Principality.
"There are a lot of words being said, but we just need to get out there and perform now. There are a lot of boys upset with the way we performed (against Ireland) and we know we can do better," Cardiff Blues prop Jenkins said.
"The senior boys are probably the ones under the most pressure. They know that. We all know we need to do better.
"We (the senior men) are the ones leading the team, we are the ones who drive the standards, who drive training, and when things go wrong the pressure comes on to us because we are the ones leading it. You wouldn't have it any other way.
"I don't think this team is used to losing too many games, especially in the Six Nations the last few years.
"There is still a lot of confidence in the players we've got, it is just a case of getting back out on that field and proving ourselves. We are at home, there will be a big atmosphere, and we need to show what we are about.
"We've obviously had a good look at ourselves, and this week has been about building again. We are still in the tournament, and we have still got to aim for four out of five wins."
Webb for Phillips apart, Gatland has also recalled fit-again lock Luke Charteris, while 37 times-capped wing George North makes his first start as a Test centre after Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies and Ashley Beck were all unavailable due to injuries.
North's battle opposite French midfield powerhouse Mathieu Bastareaud promises to have a major bearing on Friday's outcome, and he has been backed to make his mark by regular wing partner Alex Cuthbert.
"It shows George's versatility, just popping into number 13 in such a big game as this," Cuthbert said.
"I think he is going to cause havoc at 13. He'll cause a lot of defenders to come in on him, and hopefully that will give me and Liam (Williams) extra space.
"A lot of people have been writing us off this week, but we've been concentrating on ourselves and nothing outside."