Welsh Rugby Union | Wales & Regions

Wayne Pivac’s side face a France side chasing their first Six Nations grand slam since 2010 at the Principality Stadium on Friday night. And Wales defense coach Jenkins has told his players they must step it up physically if they want to come out on top.

“They have got some big forwards, some big players and some dangerous players,” said the former Wales prop. “We are going to have to step up physically and meet them face to face.

“It is going to be a big test of us, a bigger test physically than the three (teams) we have probably faced. That’s taking nothing away from the three we have faced, it’s just a different animal and where they are going to come with their threats.

“They have scored a lot of tries off turnovers. Our reactions have to be quick.

“A big part of it is playing in the right areas and not playing too much rugby in our own half. They have got a good system defensively, and when they do turn the ball over they do try to shift it quite a bit and get some tries.

“Hopefully, we can cut down the amount of times they get to do that.”

Wales have gradually improved their defensive performance under the tutelage of Jenkins, and have become a difficult side to break down. But the three times British & Irish Lions tourist insists there is still room for improvement.

“It does wind me up a bit some of players saying in the press they like to play a running style of rugby. I don’t want to hear that!,” Jenkins joked.

“I want to hear them telling you all that they like to defend, they like to hit people, they like to smash people in the contact area and be physical. That’s what I want to hear from them.

“If I do see someone who has said comments like that, I will pick up on it and say ‘right, where’s the other side of the game’? “Don’t get me wrong, if we go 70 meters and score a try, I am cheering as well.

“All the nitty-gritty basic stuff is the stuff that wins you games. The gloss on top of that comes later. Unless you are getting your basic details right, you don’t tend to succeed.

“We are always striving for more. A lot of the group has been in for quite a few campaigns now.”

Wales have welcomed this week experienced blindside Josh Navidi back into the squad after the 31-year-old recovered from injury. Jenkins sees it as a huge boost to the squad, and can’t wait for a special occasion on Friday night.

“It’s pleasing for us to see him through the game on Friday for Cardiff,” said Jenkins. He has done it before, coming back on the back of not many games.

“He’s obviously still a little bit ring-rusty, but we’ve got confidence that his experience and physicality as a player will come back pretty quickly. He’s trained well already this week.

“It’s a big game for us. France have put some good performances together, they are probably favorites going into it after what has come before.

“We will build on being at home and get a bit from the atmosphere. For us to win this, and hopefully go on the week after, would make it three (wins) out of five.

“We know they are a physical, quality team. We’ve come close the last twice we played them and haven’t quite got over the line, so it will be a big challenge for us, mentally.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.