Kicking guru Jenkins joins Lions
June 8, 2009
Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins will join the Lions in South Africa © Getty Images
Former Wales and British & Irish Lions fly-half Neil Jenkins will join the Lions in South Africa as kicking coach. Jenkins joins the squad after supervising Wales' victorious two-Test series in Canada and the USA, returning to South Africa after kicking the 1997 tourists to Test match glory.
The Lions have shown decent kicking form so far on tour, with James Hook immaculate against the Cheetahs on Saturday, but have nevertheless jumped at the chance to utilise the expertise of the one-time leading points scorer in Tests. Jenkins is part of the Wales setup alongside Lions coaches Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley, and his availability in South Africa has provided an unexpected bonus for the squad. He will arrive in South Africa on Thursday, and join the squad in Cape Town ahead of the tour game against Western Province.
"We found out that Neil is going to be in South Africa during the latter stages of the tour," said tour manager Gerald Davies. "Therefore, the coaching staff thought it would be a good idea to ask him to become involved with the squad as kicking coach when he was here. He is Wales' kicking coach and the former world record points holder."
Jenkins toured under the tutelage of Ian McGeechan in 1997, and the Lions boss was quick to play up the opportunity afforded to the current crop of kickers, Hook, his Welsh team-mates Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny and Irish fly-half Ronan O'Gara.
"We did not appoint a kicking coach initially as Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards have experience in this area and have adequately taken responsibility for looking after the kickers," said McGeechan. "However, when someone of Neil's ability is available and on hand it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
"If anyone knows about what is required in terms of general kicking and goal kicking in South Africa it is Neil. It was his all round kicking game that helped the Lions to victory in the 1997 Test series out here against the then World Champions."
Jenkins was quick to acknowledge the honour of being part of a Lions tour, and is ready to get stuck in as soon as he arrives on South African soil.
"It is a great honour to be part of a British and Irish Lions tour and I am delighted and grateful to have been offered this fantastic opportunity," he said. "I am extremely lucky in that I have just completed a great tour of Canada and the USA with Wales so I am now free to devote all my attention to the Lions.
"I have clear ideas of what I would like to contribute and I know so many of the players, coaches and back up team that I will be able to get out onto the training pitch and get started as soon as I arrive. South Africa is a great rugby nation so the challenges ahead are huge but I am determined to give my all to the Lions cause."