Connect to share and comment

RugbyU: Jenkins to skipper Wales in England crunch

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Gethin Jenkins was declared fit on Thursday to captain Wales in Saturday's Six Nations title battle against England at the Millennium Stadium.

Jenkins shrugged off a calf muscle problem that ruled him out of last weekend's win over Scotland and the 32-year-old will win his 98th cap as he replaces Paul James in the front-row and takes leadership duties from flanker Ryan Jones.

The Toulon prop's presence is a big boost for Wales, who are guaranteed to retain the Six Nations title if they win by eight points or more against an England side chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003.

"Gethin comes back in and will captain the side. His leadership will be invaluable," coach Rob Howley said on Thursday.

Jones broke a bone in his shouler against Scotland and he is replaced in the back-row by Justin Tipuric, with Sam Warburton wearing Wales' number six shirt.

Howley opted not to give the captain's armband back to Warburton, even though he skippered the team in last season's Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign.

The Wales coach prefers to let Warburton concentrate on his own game and that approach paid off at Murrayfield when he delivered a dominant performance against the Scots.

There are two changes on the Wales bench, with James replacing Ryan Bevington and Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler promoted to fill Tipuric's spot.

The victory over Scotland set a Wales record of five successive Six Nations away wins, although the reigning champions have not won a Test match at the Millennium Stadium this season.

Howley has named an unchanged back division for the fifth game running, with Mike Phillips making his 77th Test match appearance to become Wales' most capped scrum-half.

The centre partnership of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts make their 14th championship appearance together, passing the previous Wales best held by Ray Gravell and Steve Fenwick.

In total, the Wales team features 12 players who started last season's Grand Slam clincher against France and boasts a combined tally of more than 600 caps.

It is a talent-filled line-up that Howley believes has enough quality and experience to see off England.

"The players have worked very hard to put themselves in this position for Saturday, with three hard-fought victories on the road," Howley said.

"Saturday is a big finale for the tournament, but we have a very experienced squad that has been in this position before and that has played in big games. That will be important, come kick-off."

Wales team announced on Thursday to play England in their final Six Nations match in Cardiff on Saturday (kick-off 1700GMT):

(Wales 15-1)

Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton; Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones; Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Gethin Jenkins (capt)

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Scott Andrews, Andrew Coombs, Aaron Shingler, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.

smg/ak

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130314/rugbyu-jenkins-skipper-wales-england-crunch