Friday, December 25, 2009

Wales won’t press panic button insists Gethin Jenkins

GETHIN Jenkins is adamant there’s no need for Warren Gatland to press the panic button ahead of the Six Nations.

Cardiff Blues star Jenkins was appointed Wales coach Gatland’s stand-in skipper at the weekend against Australia following the late withdrawal of No 8 Ryan Jones with back trouble.

But the loose-head prop was unable to prevent Wales slumping to a 33-12 Millennium Stadium caning from the Wallabies.

However, despite Wales’ indifferent autumn – wins over Samoa and Argentina and defeats to New Zealand and Australia – Jenkins maintained the only road is up.

“I don’t think there’s too much panic,” said the 29-year-old. “We have not had a completely wasted campaign, we have had two wins out of four (matches).

“We have to look where we went wrong and improve on it.

“We have to pick ourselves up now and look forward to the Six Nations.”

But Lions ace Jenkins did admit the return of the cavalry – players of the ilk of Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips and Adam Jones – would lift Welsh morale ahead of the Six Nations opener with England at Twickenham on February 6.

“The boys who have come in did a job,” he said.

“Hopefully, we will have a few key players back we have been missing.

“We have got to stick together and play the best we can,” he said.

“We are all disappointed when we lose. These are the biggest games you can play, so to speak, against the top three southern hemisphere teams.

“That’s where we want to be tested. We have got a lot of hard work to do.

“I would say we are a bit behind the top three (New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) at the moment.

“That’s where we want to be, competing against those top three teams on a week to week basis.”

Even though Wales failed to take a Tri-Nations scalp this autumn, Jenkins reckoned they would be better for the experience of playing them on a regular basis over the next year.

“I think we will be quite a bit stronger when it comes to the Six Nations,” he said.

But he added that not having the chance to rectify the sub-standard performance against Australia until the England match was “tough”.

“I thought we just got outplayed from the minute we went on the field,” he said of the clash with the Wallabies.

“We did not see it coming; we played pretty well the previous three games but I think Australia just showed us how to win an international rugby match.

“We weren’t at the races. We know the calibre of player they have, the quality of backs they have but we are disappointed with ourselves because we let them play.

“We were very lethargic. That first 30 minutes we did not get into their faces at all. Teams obviously know the way we play but we back ourselves and our game-plan to use people with the skill we have got to break them down.

“Their defence was outstanding. We could not break them down.

“We made lots of mistakes first half and you can’t win a game making that many mistakes.

“We definitely missed a lot of tackles. At half-time we looked at the scoreboard and we were still in the game despite making that many mistakes.”

Wales trailed 23-11 but failed to added another point despite seemingly being aided by some favourable decisions from English referee Wayne Barnes.

The Wallabies pressed their cruise control button, kicking frequently as the closed the game out.

“Second half, we couldn’t turn it around,” lamented Jenkins, before discussing Wales’ scrummaging problems against an impressively powerful Australian pack.

“We struggled a bit. They are one of the best in the world,” he said.

Jenkins admitted switching to tight-head prop from loosehead with more than 30 minutes remaining was difficult for him.

“Yes, I have done it in the past but it was tough. There was quite a few scrums,” he said.

“The players were very down after the game but you would expect that.”

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