Jenkins aiming to end Springboks hurt

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The Independent Online

Gethin Jenkins has experienced his fair share of mental and physical pain against South Africa.

Whether it has been in Cardiff, Durban, Bloemfontein or Pretoria for Wales or the British and Irish Lions, the result has never changed - played eight, lost eight.

He also suffered a fractured cheekbone playing against the Springboks last year, ending his Lions Test series one game inside the distance.

"I've had quite a few battles in the last two or three years with them," said Wales' outstanding prop forward, who turns 30 next Wednesday, but still possesses a ravenous appetite for Test match rugby.

Tomorrow's Millennium Stadium clash will see him win a 76th cap - 10 more than his nearest Welsh front-row challenger in the cap stakes and current team-mate Adam Jones - and Jenkins' desire to start redressing the balance burns brightly.

"I've never beaten South Africa, but I believe that if we put a good performance in, we can really compete with them. We need to step up for ourselves as a squad," he added.

"We hate losing as much as the Welsh public hate us losing. We want to come out afterwards and talk about the good things after a victory.

"It's frustrating when you have to talk about where we've gone wrong and where we haven't won the game.

"There is no greater feeling than when you have won an international game, you've worn that jersey and come off the field with a victory.

"We are doing as much work as we can in training to put little things right where we think they are going wrong. I think we need to be a little bit smarter and nail those key moments in a game.

"You have got to be on the ball for 80 minutes against these guys. We do tend to sometimes switch off, and you can get hurt and lose seven points at this level. It's a long way back then."

He gained rave reviews for his performances with the 2009 Lions in South Africa, but just when an all-Welsh Test front-row of Jenkins, Jones and Matthew Rees looked set to taste glory at Loftus Versfeld, injuries took a terrible toll.

Jenkins had his right cheekbone smashed and Jones dislocated his shoulder. Both injuries came in rapid succession, both were tour-ending.

"I was just unlucky," recalled Jenkins. "Maybe I was a bit too keen.

"(Bryan) Habana just carried up, Brian O'Driscoll tackled him and then I came in with a double tackle. Habana's head smashed into my cheekbone from the impact of the tackle.

"I knew straightaway it was something pretty bad. I did think I could carry on, but the doctor said there was no chance. It was a disappointing end to the tour."

Wales will go into tomorrow's encounter on the back of a scrummaging demolition job they performed at Australia's expense six days ago. Despite such supremacy though, Wales lost the game and try-count.

"It just shows how much the game has changed," he said.

"You can have a dominant scrum, but it is about a lot of other things as well. The game is so fast, and there are so many skilful players about.

"Yes, you can get three, six, nine points out of the scrum and perhaps have dominance, but there is more to the game than that.

"The contact area is going to be a lot different this week. South Africa play a very different way, they are more of a forward-orientated team, and it is going to be a much bigger challenge.

"It's going to be tough up-front - not as though the Australians weren't tough up-front - but they pose a different threat.

"They (South Africa) do the basics well, they are good at all the key areas - a strong pack, a strong lineout and a strong scrum.

"It is almost a sense of belief that we can beat these teams. We went into last Saturday pretty confident, but I think we need to believe more that we can actually go out and take one of these big scalps."