New Zealand v Wales, Hamilton, June 26
Jenkins plays down Jones injury
June 23, 2010
Stephen Jones leaves the field during the first Test against New Zealand at Carisbrook © Getty Images
Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins has played down the possibility of losing Stephen Jones with a thumb injury for Saturday's final Test against New Zealand.
Jones suffered his thumb injury in the second half of the 42-9 thrashing in the series opener at Carisbrook on Saturday and is a real doubt for the second Test.
Jones, who was replaced by Ospreys pivot Dan Biggar, has been unable to train for the past two days due to the limited mobility in his thumb and has instead concentrated on fitness work and goal-kicking practice.
But Jenkins said Biggar, who has just five caps to his name, is ready to step up if called upon.
"They're always swapping in and out (at training) anyway. It won't make any difference this week," said Jenkins. "You obviously want all your players fit and available to train but after playing 90-odd Test matches I don't think it'll harm Steve to have a couple of days off. It might even do him a little bit of good. But we obviously want him back training as early as possible to get ready for Saturday."
Coach Warren Gatland is set to announce his starting team on Thursday and whether that gives Jones long enough to prove his fitness is doubtful.
"He's getting better and progressing every day. We'll see how he goes through the week and hopefully he'll be fine by the weekend. Whatever happens we just want to try and get him involved in some way, shape or form."
New Zealand coach Graham Henry named his new-look side on Tuesday and Jenkins said the All Blacks were still a formidable outfit despite the seven changes.
"Muliaina coming in (at full-back) and Kahui starting (at centre) and Zac Guildford on the wing. They are not weakened one bit," added Jenkins. "When they put that All Black jersey on it means everything to them. They are certainly not weakened by the side they've got on Saturday."
Jenkins added that it is vital that Wales cut down on their turnovers and are clinical with their chances than in Carisbrook if they are to stand any chance of an upset.
"They were maybe not clear-cut (chances in Dunedin) but they were chances and you've got to take them against these guys to stand a chance of beating them. It was frustrating, especially Kahui's try. We got pretty much eight players in that front line and yet it was more like touch rugby and we didn't get a hand on him.
"That is hugely frustrating as a coach. That's something we need to work hard at because it was reasonably good for most of the game. But maybe through fatigue and tiredness and lack of concentration it just dropped off towards the end and you can't do that against the All Blacks."
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