World Cup semi-final defeat will motivate Wales against France says Gethin Jenkins

 

Gethin Jenkins believes the crushing disappointment of Wales' World Cup semi-final defeat against France cannot be discounted as a motivating factor behind their RBS 6 Nations title push.

Wales will win this season's Six Nations title and land a Grand Slam if they beat Italy next Saturday and then France seven days later - both in Cardiff.

It is almost five months since France inflicted World Cup agony on Jenkins and company, winning 9-8 in Auckland after Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off midway through the first-half.

Although Wales were still able to reflect on their most successful World Cup campaign for 24 years, the feeling was it could - and probably should - have been even better.

"The disappointment of losing to France in that semi-final has spurred us on, to work hard and get back to that level," said prop Jenkins, who is set to win his 86th cap next weekend.

"There is a lot of expectation, and we have to deal with that mentally and emotionally.

"You can't avoid the talk. The public is talking about the Grand Slam, but as a player you just look forward to the next game.

"Italy is a big challenge for us. They are always tough, and they are the only thing we are concentrating on."

Wales look set to welcome back one World Cup star - but lose another - for the Italy encounter.

Less than a fortnight after Ospreys lock Alun-Wyn Jones returned to Test action from injury, his World Cup second-row partner Luke Charteris could now join him.

But centre Jamie Roberts is fighting what appears to be a losing fitness battle ahead of the Azzurri fixture.

Charteris has officially joined Wales' Six Nations training squad after making his comeback from a serious wrist injury for Newport Gwent Dragons against Munster three days ago.

"Luke was a huge part of our World Cup success, and to see him back is great. It's nice to have another option, a selection issue, with Luke coming back," Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said.

"Luke is not here to make up numbers - it would be a disservice to be saying that. He is here to be selected, and it is good to have him back."

The news on Roberts, though, does not appear promising after he went off at half-time against England at Twickenham last month nursing a knee injury.

"We are still not too sure about Jamie. At the moment, he is probably the only doubt," Howley added.

Scott Williams, Wales' try-scoring matchwinner in the 19-12 victory over England, is favourite to replace Roberts alongside Jonathan Davies in midfield should a change be required. Coach Warren Gatland will name his starting line-up later today.

PA

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