Jenkins fit to face England
July 12, 2011
Jenkins last appeared for Wales against New Zealand in November and will hope to be back in contention to start against South Africa in their opening game of the World Cup. © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions prop Gethin Jenkins has declared himself fully fit as he bids to reclaim his place in the Wales side.
Wales face two warm-up Tests against England and a further against Argentina in August before head coach Warren Gatland cuts his 42-man training squad down to the final 30 ahead of the World Cup. Jenkins, who was forced to sit out the Six Nations and Wales' recent test against the Barbarians with a foot injury, hopes to add to his 76-caps against England on August 6.
"Coming back from injury is a frustrating time for any player and you have to tough it out mentally and keep telling yourself you will be back," said Jenkins. "But, if there is ever a good time to make your comeback, it's probably now. The World Cup is just around the corner and in hindsight, although it was difficult being out, it was all part of the plan really, that I would time my return and be getting back into it now."
Jenkins was forced to watch on from the sidelines while the likes of Ospreys prop Paul James and Exeter Chiefs' new signing Craig Mitchell excelled in the Wales front row during the Six Nations. Jenkins, along with fellow British & Irish Lion Adam Jones, now faces the task of forcing his way back into the national XV.
"I've done all the fitness work necessary and it will stand me in good stead, but now I have to get back in the side," said Jenkins. "Paul and Craig have both done well and it will be a good thing for the squad if I can create some more competition for that starting spot. Those are the guys in possession and it's up to the likes of myself and Adam (Jones) to wrestle the shirts from them now.
"All the jerseys are up for grabs, which is going to make those games against England and Argentina all the more interesting. Obviously I'll be looking to get some game time and I just have to hope I do enough to impress the coaches if I get my chance, but the first priority now is to get back on the training camp next week in Poland."
The 42-man Wales training squad returned on Tuesday from a brutal 10 day fitness and skills camp in Spala, Poland, but will return on July 16. Wales flanker Sam Warburton has already spoken of the harsh regime, but Jenkins believes such challenges are essential as they work towards their first pre-World Cup match against England.
"The camp has been tough mentally and physically, but the next challenge will then be to perform on the pitch," said Jenkins. "We will be strong and fit, but we need to convert that into performing in games.
"There is only so much you can learn about a rugby player from a fitness test and these games against England and Argentina will be the opportunity for the coaches to assess the players in a match. Those 'Tests' will be the acid tests. Hopefully, if I get my chance, it will go well and I can go to the World Cup, but I'm not taking anything for granted."
Wales face England on August 6 at Twickenham before playing their rivals back at the Millennium Stadium a week later. Their final warm-up match is against Argentina on August 20 before they start their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Wellington on 11 September.
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