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Jenkins gears up for physical test


Gethin Jenkins is ready to return for Wales

Gethin Jenkins is ready to return for Wales

Gethin Jenkins is ready to return for Wales

Gethin Jenkins will return to the Wales front row on Saturday ready for a trademark punishing physical encounter against South Africa.

The Cardiff Blues prop has recovered from a hamstring problem to win his 110th cap as Wales target a first major southern-hemisphere scalp since 2008.

And Jenkins, a British and Irish Lions Test player on the 2009 South Africa tour, knows it will be another challenging afternoon at the forward coal-face.

"They (South Africa) have definitely changed their game-plan over the last couple of years, but they have kept some of their strengths," he said.

"The maul is still strong and the scrum is still a focus for them. They are quite direct in their backs, and you know with Welsh teams what to expect. We know it's going to be a physical battle.

"The Lions tour in 2009 probably stands out in terms of how physical it was.

"Their nation was so up for it, and it showed how much they love their rugby. Obviously, I'd played against them before then, but their country brought that tour to life.

"You always know it is going to be a physical encounter, and the summer this year was the same (Wales lost Tests in Durban and Nelspruit).

"We let ourselves down in the first Test, but we knew we had to front up in the second Test. We just didn't get over that final hurdle (Wales lost 31-30), and I am looking forward to getting back out there on Saturday."

Wales completed their preparations for the latest Springboks clash with a Friday run at the Millennium Stadium.

Jenkins, wing Liam Williams and hooker Scott Baldwin have all been called into the starting line-up as respective replacements for Paul James, George North and Richard Hibbard as Wales look to bounce back from last weekend's defeat against world champions New Zealand.

Wales led 16-15 with only 11 minutes left, but they then conceded 19 unanswered points during a devastating seven-minute spell.

And it continued a dismal losing sequence against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia during head coach Warren Gatland's reign, with Wales having claimed just one win from 27 starts.

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said: "We are going to have to be at our best.

"If we can do things to the best of our ability and nail those one or two moments, then we're not going to be too far away.

"We are hammering away. You can count on one hand when Wales have beaten those three teams (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) ever. We're not in too different a situation to any other Wales team.

"The closeness and regularity of the results - us being in the dogfight to the death - I think speaks volumes. When it does happen, it's not going to be a flash in a pan. We have built up to the result."

Wales will hope their selected replacements' bench for the South Africa game remains intact.

Scrum-half Mike Phillips sat out training on Friday due to him feeling unwell, while prop Aaron Jarvis has a sore ankle.

Scarlets number nine Rhodri Williams would provide cover for starting number nine Rhys Webb if Phillips is ruled out, with uncapped prop Rob Evans likely to deputise for Jarvis, if required.

Scarlets forward Evans linked up with the Wales squad for training earlier this week.