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Jenkins ready for "big occasion"

Wales forward Gethin Jenkins is set to celebrate reaching a century of caps the day before his 33rd birthday next weekend - but victory over Argentina comfortably takes priority.

Jenkins will become only the fourth member of Wales' 100-cap club - joining Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas and Martyn Williams - 11 years after making his Test debut against Romania in Wrexham.

It is a landmark achievement for any player, let alone a prop forward, and stands as testament to one of Wales' most consistent performers in the professional era.

And Jenkins is ready to go again in six days' time after dusting himself down following a punishing encounter against South Africa when Wales conceded three unanswered tries and lost four players to injury.

"A similar thing happened last year against New Zealand when we lost a few boys early doors," the Cardiff Blues man said.

"I looked around after 15 to 20 minutes and there were cuts and bruises and boys off everywhere. It was real backs against the wall stuff and I suppose you have to dig in and get through that.

"But winning is everything for us and the boys are gutted.

"We have seemed to start pretty slowly in the autumn campaigns, but I thought we came back into the game really well. We just seemed to fall short again.

"It was one of the most physical games I have played in, but then a lot of the boys said how much they enjoyed it. It was a test for us physically. and perhaps we fell a little bit short and we needed a bit of composure towards the end.

"International rugby is a big step and we tried to replicate that in training what would go on out there.

"South Africa have come from the Rugby Championship campaign, where they have been on fire. If a few things had gone our way we might have won that game."

Wales, though, have now lost 25 of 27 Tests against South Africa stretching back 107 years, with Springboks scrum-half Fourie du Preez's 65th-minute try - the score was awarded despite his team-mate Jaque Fourie being offside - proving the clincher.

Jenkins spent part of the second period in the sin-bin along with his opposite number Coenie Oosthuizen after referee Alain Rolland took action for what he deemed to be repeated collapsed scrums.

It led to the unedifying sight of uncontested scrums because Wales, having lost injured pair Adam Jones and Scott Andrews, had no prop resources left on their replacements' bench.

"He (Rolland) warned us at the scrum before," Jenkins added.

"I suppose a yellow card is always bad, but when someone opposite you goes off as well it's perhaps not as bad. I thought it was a fair battle in the scrums.

"We didn't counteract South Africa's driving maul very well. We knew they were going to do it, but we didn't deal with it well enough.

"That is something we have got to go back to this week and work on because it is an area we have to improve on. We really need to pick ourselves up now."

Jenkins, who captained Wales to a record 30-3 victory over Grand Slam-chasing England last March that secured a second successive RBS 6 Nations title, could conceivably become his country's most capped player by the end of this season.

And while he recognises the significance of clocking up 100 Wales appearances, team success remains paramount.

"If selected, it will be a big occasion for me," he said.

"It has been a long old road to get there and trying to stay injury-free has been my main concern over the last year or so. But I feel good and I am looking forward to this week's training.

"Someone asked me last week did I remember looking forward to winning my 50th cap and I said 'no, not really, because your first cap is your biggest game.

"Martyn has already told me, though, that he won't be able to be introduced as the most-capped Wales forward any more, so he's not happy with that!"


From Belfast Telegraph