Lions turn to kicking guru Neil Jenkins
April 24, 2013
Neil Jenkins will work with the Lions again this summer © Getty Images
Jenkins will work alongside Gatland, Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Rob Howley on the tour and will go as a technical kicking coach - the same role he performed on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa when he worked under Sir Ian McGeechan.
He currently holds the same post with Wales and has worked with the likes of Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny in the past but was also a highly accomplished versatile back. Jenkins once held the world record for the most points at Test-level and he played an instrumental role in the Lions' 1997 series win over South Africa.
Jenkins started all three Tests in 1997 and made one substitute appearance for the Lions against Australia in 2001. And he is hoping to return from Australia this summer with a series win after suffering the heartbreak of a 2-1 loss to the Wallabies in 2001.
"It is a great honour to once again be part of a British & Irish Lions tour," Jenkins said. "I am delighted and grateful to have been offered this opportunity to join the 2013 coaching staff.
"As a player I was lucky enough to tour Australia with the Lions in 2001, it is a great country and they are one of the top teams in world rugby. Like 1997 it was a terrific series but unfortunately we lost 2-1. I have clear ideas of what I would like to contribute and I cannot wait to get out onto the training pitch and get started."
Gatland had previously suggested he would be looking to add to the backroom staff he named in December and Jenkins seems to be the final piece of the jigsaw. Gatland said: "Neil was one of the foremost kickers in the game, both out of the hand and in terms of goal kicking during his career. He has been working in the coaching environment in this crucial area with great success in recent years with Wales.
"The tour to Australia will be one hell of a challenge and we need to ensure that our approach in all aspects of the game is first rate. Tactical kicking, when to kick, how to kick, and of course converting points through penalties and conversions is crucial to on-field success. Neil brings extensive knowledge to the squad in this area and the players can only benefit from this."
Jenkins in action in 2001 © PA Photos
The Welsh Rugby Union's CEO Roger Lewis paid tribute to Jenkins saying: "The appointment of Neil is yet more confirmation that we have assembled a remarkably skilled backroom and coaching team here in Wales. The complement of coaches, analysts and conditioners from Wales is testimony to the strength of our systems and structures which are supported by incredibly talented and experienced individuals."
Jenkins will now not travel with the other Wales coaches on their tour of Japan with Robin McBryde heading up the backroom staff alongside Shaun Edwards.
"It's a great opportunity for Neil and I'm delighted for him," McBryde said. "Neil excels in his field and it's a chance for him to show that once again with the Lions. From a Wales point of view it will add to his coaching experience and CV and I'm sure we will reap the rewards on his return."
The Lions have also announced that Ireland's Dr. Eanna Falvey has been appointed as the assistant tour doctor. He has has been Ireland's team doctor since 2009 and has also worked with the Under-21s and their Wolfhound squad.
Dr. James Robson, Lions team doctor, hailed the appointment saying: "I am delighted to have Eanna on board. He joins a team with a wealth of previous Lions experience. I hope he enjoys the opportunity to be involved on such an amazing journey."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports