Rugby Union: Wales relieved as kicker Jenkins receives all-clear

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The Independent Online
NEIL JENKINS has been given a clean bill of health and is set to be named today by Wales to play at stand-off against Ireland in their Five Nations' Championship match at Lansdowne Road on Saturday week.

In last Saturday's 19-13 victory over Scotland at Wembley, Jenkins was forced off after 19 minutes with a gash near his eye amid fears of more serious damage. But, after two X-rays, the Wales coach, Kevin Bowring, has been told that the goal-kicker is fit to resume immediately.

"Neil has been given the all-clear by the medical staff," the Pontypridd rugby administrator, Eddie Jones, said.

"He is suffering from nothing more than the cut and some bruising and he has been told he can play this weekend when we face Neath in the semi- finals of the WRU Challenge Trophy.

"However, we are unlikely to play Neil as he won't be having the stitches out until the weekend but he will certainly be fit for the international."

With Jenkins declared fit, Bowring is likely to turn his attentions to the pack where he does have options for change. The Swansea prop Chris Anthony has been in fine form for his club and Wales A and must be pushing David Young hard for the tighthead role.

Anthony has yet to start a match for Wales after four appearances as a replacement but the 21-year-old is such an outstanding prospect his chance should come sooner rather than later.

Scott Quinnell, too, could well make the starting line-up this time, the Richmond No 8 coming on as a replacement at Wembley. If Quinnell is back in favour it could be at the expense of Rob Appleyard, with Colin Charvis switching from No 8 to his customary berth at blind-side flanker.

Willie Anderson, sacked last month as the London Irish coach, has swapped one struggling team for another by returning to his former club, Dungannon.

The former Ireland captain, a cult figure at Stevenson Park for almost 20 years, has two games to steer Dungannon clear of relegation from Division One of the All-Ireland League.

Anderson has joined the coaching staff until the end of the season, but that only comprises matches against Old Crescent and Clontarf, which Dungannon must win to have any chance of surviving in Irish rugby's top tier.

The former international centre Ian Jardine will return for Stirling County in their Tennents Premiership clash with Boroughmuir on Saturday in the hope of reclaiming his place in the Scotland A set-up.

The 32-year-old has recovered from the hamstring problem which forced him off against France A nearly three weeks ago and aims to prove his fitness before the shadow Grand Slam decider with England on Friday week.