Jenkins vows to seize his chance
PA Sport
February 19, 2008

Recalled Wales prop Gethin Jenkins is determined to prove coach Warren Gatland was wrong to drop him by unleashing three weeks of frustration on the Italians this Saturday.

Jenkins captained Wales in the one-off Test against South Africa last November but then found himself relegated from skipper to substitute when Gatland took over ahead of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The demotion hurt the Cardiff Blues star but, after making telling impacts off the bench in Wales' victories over England and Scotland, he has now been given his chance.

And the 27-year-old will lock horns with the powerful Italian pack this weekend aiming to dislodge loose-head rival Duncan Jones for good.

''The boys who have come in all have a point to prove,'' said Jenkins. ``We all have a chance to show that we deserve that jersey.

''The first week he (Gatland) turned up I realised I wasn't going to be starting. You can always sense from training whether you are going to be in the team.

''To go from captain to the bench was really disappointing for me. I wasn't given too many reasons.

''Warren just said he wanted to go with Duncan and Adam Jones and he was going to put me on the bench. It is up to Warren what he thinks is the best team. I am used to coming off the bench but that doesn't mean I was happy with it. I hate not starting.

''This is the first chance I have had in front of Warren, the first chance he has given me to start. Now I just want to keep the jersey for the next three games.''

Gatland is attempting to build intense rivalry within the squad in the belief genuine competition for places is the most effective method of driving Welsh rugby forward.

He has taken the unusual decision to replace the entire front row this week, a particularly bold move given Wales are up against one of the toughest forward packs in world rugby.

Jenkins and the inexperienced tight-head Rhys Thomas are expected to be up against powerful Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni and 'The Baron' Andrea Lo Cicero.

''The players coming in have a massive responsibility to do the job,'' said Gatland. ``Italy have shown in the first couple of games that if we underestimate them we could embarrass ourselves.

''I am going to look pretty stupid aren't I if we don't win at home (after making all these changes).''

The Azzurri pushed England to the brink two weekends ago and could easily have beaten Ireland in Dublin in the opening round of the championship.

Wales have not beaten Italy since the 2005 Grand Slam campaign, following an 18-18 draw two years ago and defeat in Rome last season and Jenkins, who will win his 56th Test cap on Saturday, is spoiling for the fight.

''They put a real emphasis on the scrum and the driving maul and will attack us in that area - but we will attack them and it will be a good battle,'' he said.

''They are a tough side to play against and there is pressure. We are a new front row but we are confident together. Knowing the team last week has helped a lot and we have done a lot of preparation.

''Now we are just looking forward to building on the first two victories.''

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