Welsh hopes of team continuity hit by Gethin Jenkins injury


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The Independent Online

The Wales head coach, Rob Howley, may be forced to change his winning team amid concern over an injury to Gethin Jenkins.

The veteran prop, who won his 97th cap in Rome, limped off after a calf problem flared up once again with Jenkins' chances rated 50/50 of facing Scotland in two weeks.

Howley said: "Gethin has pulled his calf. We're not sure yet how severe it is. We have two weeks to get everyone right for Scotland."

Jenkins, who confirmed this week he will cut short his stint at Toulon to rejoin Cardiff Blues next season, has been beset by calf problems since touring with the 2005 British Lions and was sidelined at Christmas with the complaint.

Paul James would be the replacement, as at the Olympic Stadium, though Howley is desperate to keep a winning line-up together, despite the return of former captains Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones, having named the same team from the victory in Paris a fortnight ago.

Howley said: "We might be tempted to stick with the same team again, if we can. We've always spoken about the importance of preparation though we rarely have a lot of time. That was why we named the team so early last week."

The scars of those eight successive defeats are beginning to heel with a second successive win on the road as Wales have dusted themselves down from the opening defeat to Ireland.

More frustrating for Howley is that, despite all their woes, they would be more than half-way to another Grand Slam had it not been for that horrendous first half against Ireland.

He said: "That first half against Ireland has really let us down because we have come back so well since then. We've learned a lot from losing so many games by such tight margins last summer.

"We gained a lot of confidence from the win in Paris and now we have built on that. We wanted to play with pace and intensity but once we saw the conditions, the players adapted superbly and took control in the second half.

"Our scrum was impressive, we showed patience and composure and took our chances when they came. It was very pleasing."


Ryan Jones was in inspirational form again, leading from the front, topping the tackle count for his team and claiming his 17th Test victory as captain.

Jones said: "The attitude of the players in the last two games has been fantastic. No one can question the never-say-die attitude of this team, their endeavour and willingness to play for each other."