Jenkins eyes big performance

Date published: February 8 2014

Experienced Wales prop Gethin Jenkins acknowledges his side will have to be at the their best to beat Ireland on Saturday.

Experienced Wales prop Gethin Jenkins acknowledges his side will have to be at the their best to beat Ireland on Saturday.

The match is poised to be a thriller; set among the backdrop of Warren Gatland's dropping of Brian O'Driscoll for the British and Irish Lions' Third Test, not to mention two teams with their sights trained on the Six Nations title.

Jenkins, winning his 102nd cap after recovering from a knee injury, knows the pressure will be on the defending champions.

“There is pressure on us,” said Jenkins.

“Everyone knows that teams are coming for us. Teams are going to be looking to knock us off our perch.

“Ireland are going to be fired up, and we have got to match that and show how good we are, really.

“It comes with our success over the last two years. Going into the decider last year (against England), I don't think too many expected us to win the way we did.

“That is the pressure we put on ourselves to win the title, so I suppose the same is the case this year. We have put the pressure on ourselves.

“It's different to the first five or so years when I was first involved (with Wales). You always felt you had a chance going into a game, but you've got belief. It's a big change in mentality.

“We've had some bad experiences, and come through them, such as that 2011 World Cup semi-final (against France). Obviously, losing big games has an effect on you, but I think we have learnt from those experiences.”

The Cardiff Blues prop readily admits clashes between the two nations are rarely one-sided affairs.

“It has always been pretty tight between us,” added Jenkins.

“Virtually every game, there seems to be just one score in it.

“Under their new coach (Joe Schmidt), and just from their performances in the
November Tests, we know they are going to be just as good.

“They are one of the big challengers to us for the championship, and that is where you raise your game. We have always been a bit slow starting, so we know we will have to raise our game again on Saturday if we are to get a victory.”

Now 33 years old, Jenkins can see the end of his Test career on the horizon, but aims to keep representing Wales for as long as he is able.

“Obviously, you think that every game you play could be your last,” admitted Jenkins.

“You need to perform and you need to be at that top level.

“I think that the game has got more and more physical and more and more endurance-based. Touch wood, I haven't had any recurrences of my calf injuries this season.

“You can't beat playing for your country, and I cherish every moment. I am working hard to keep going as long as I can.”