Durable Jenkins determined to crown Wales century with win over Argentina

Gethin Jenkins will win his 100th cap for Wales today, a landmark he feared he would never reach because of rugby’s brutal physicality.

However, such is the 32-year-old’s durability he is looking forward to playing a major part in Wales’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.

That’s the long-term plan. As for the short term, the loosehead prop, who becomes the fourth Welsh player to reach 100 caps following Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas  and Martyn Williams, victory over Argentina today is a must after  the mauling by South Africa last week.

Gethin Jenkins

Centurion: Wales player Gethin Jenkins (centre) wants his 100th cap to end in victory against Argentina

Wales player Gethin Jenkins

Jenkins, who has also won five caps for the Lions, needs no reminding about the fitness battles, having been hit by injury over the past two years, culminating in him returning from the Lions trip to Australia this summer due to a calf strain.

‘It’s a weight off my mind really (in winning his 100th cap).

‘I think the 90s have been quite slow for me with injuries and stuff over the last year or two. The game has completely changed from the way it was when I first started.

‘You weren’t so much worried about power — you just ran, ran and ran. But the game has changed now, it is all power-based.

Pace over power: Gethin Jenkins played for the Lions on tour in New Zealand 2005

Pace over power: Gethin Jenkins scores a try for the Lions on tour in New Zealand 2005

‘I pride myself on getting around the field. There are no hiding  places, either. You have got a GPS  (a tracking device) on your back  and a heart-rate device on your chest, so they (the coaches) know everything you are doing.’

As for the future he admitted to targeting the 2015 World Cup. ‘It’s in the back of my mind. It’s a long way away, and there are a lot of games before then so it is a case of getting through each week.’
Jenkins has been singled out by head coach Warren Gatland as one of his key players for the World Cup.

The New Zealander remains a big admirer, describing him as a ‘sensational player’, and added: ‘His body seems to be holding together. He has dropped four or five kilos and he is looking fit.’

Jenkins will be joined in a new-look team by debutant centre Cory Allen, who continues a breakthrough season which started in Cardiff RFC’s Welsh Premier team.

Highly rated: Wales head coach Warren Gatland (right) believes Jenkins is a key player for the World Cup

Highly rated: Wales head coach Warren Gatland (right) believes Jenkins is a key player for the World Cup

Allen takes over from the injured Jonathan Davies in a back line without two more Lions in Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert. Gatland admitted he had taken a gamble on Allen, who partners Scott Williams, in an effort to give the talented youngster an opportunity.

Up front, Jenkins is without his regular partner at prop in Adam Jones, the tighthead having suffered a calf injury against South Africa.  His place goes to Rhodri Jones, the Scarlets’ tighthead, who wins a  third cap.

This inexperience in the Welsh ranks must give struggling Argentina some hope. Although they have lost seven games in a row, they frustrated England for long periods at Twickenham last weekend to improve confidence for a renewal of a contest they won last season, 26-12.

New kid on the block:  Wales debutant Cory Allen is part of the wales team new look backline

New kid on the block: Debutant Cory Allen is part of the Wales team's new look backline

WALES: Halfpenny; North, Allen,  S Williams, L Williams; Biggar, Phillips; Jenkins, Hibbard, Rhodri Jones; Davies, AW Jones; Warburton (capt), Faletau, Tipuric.  #Subs: Owens, James, Lee, Charteris , Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, Hook, Beck.

ARGENTINA: Tuculet; Agulla, Bosch, Fernandez, Cordero; Sanchez, Landajo; Ayerza, Guinazu, Bustos; l Carizza, Albacete; Matera, Cabello, Leguizamon (capt).Subs: Iglesias, Lobo, Diaz, Lavanini, Senatore, Cubelli, Azcarate, Amorosino.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).

TV: LIVE on BBC 1 from 2pm (Kick off 2.30pm).