Jenkins hopeful of Welsh victories
May 26, 2009
Neil Jenkins is expecting his young Wales side to put in a big performance © Getty Images
Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins believes that two victories would be the minimum expected for their tour of Canada and the USA to be deemed a success. Wales kick off their tour against a tough Canadian outfit in Toronto on Saturday before progressing to play the USA in Chicago a week later with their resources stretched to breaking point. 12 of their regular starters are away with the British and Irish Lions, while a further four are tied up with the Dragons' Heineken Cup playoff against Calvisano on Friday.
There remains an experienced flavour to the Wales squad despite James Hook's late Lions call-up and Jenkins believes that the blend of youth and experience selected can deliver despite Ireland struggling to a 25-6 win over the Canucks on Saturday.
"Two wins, that's what we've got to look at, good performances obviously and hopefully the development of some of the young players as well," Jenkins said. "But we can't look outside of winning both Test matches. It's going to be tough but if we play to our potential I think we could manage to do it."
Wales have happy memories of Toronto after thrashing Canada 60-3 there in 2005 with a strong squad, but Jenkins admits that they can have no hopes of a repeat performance this time around.
"We had a tough time last November when we played them, it wasn't easy in Cardiff although we managed to win in the end (34-13)," he said. "What happened here in Toronto last time around doesn't bear any resemblance to this Saturday. Canada are much improved from then and the last two times we played them at the Millennium was tough and a World Cup was very tough. So we're under no illusions about what Saturday will be all about. It's going to be a very tough game for us.
"They pushed Ireland all the way on Saturday and I think they'll probably fancy their chances against us as we've got a sort of a mix and match squad, but we're looking forward to that as well. It's going to be two very tough games for us. Canada, certainly, took Ireland all the way on Saturday and were unlucky I thought towards the end to concede a couple of tries. We know it's going to be very tough."
There are plenty of incentives for Wales to perform on tour, whether it be the chance to win a first cap, or for others such as skipper Ryan Jones to put a message out to the Lions coaching staff as they prepare their team in South Africa.
"We've got a lot of fresh faces here as well, a lot of new guys on their first trip, mixed in with experience as well and this is a great opportunity for them," said Jenkins. "Obviously for the new guys coming in there's that opportunity of getting their first cap and that's enough incentive in itself. For maybe the more experienced guys that have maybe missed out on the Lions, playing well here is key because someone maybe watching them.
"So that's an incentive for the older guys because if there are injuries in South Africa these guys have got a chance to be called upon. They want to be playing well here because if they're not then that chance might slip by as well. So there are a lot of difference incentives for different players for different reasons and we're hoping the guys will put that to the fore on Saturday."