Jenkins fighting for his right to face the Springboks

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The Independent Online

When Garin Jenkins and his Swansea front-row colleagues Darren Morris and Ben Evans pack down together for Wales against the United States at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff today their minds will be on the present and the future rather than the past.

When Garin Jenkins and his Swansea front-row colleagues Darren Morris and Ben Evans pack down together for Wales against the United States at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff today their minds will be on the present and the future rather than the past.

There will be no thoughts of the Pontypool front row which dominated Welsh scrummaging in the mid to late 1970s, nor of the last time a club supplied the front row for Wales - Neath against Scotland in 1990 - the minds of Jenkins and his props will be focused purely on today and next week when South Africa are the visitors.

The Wales coach, Graham Henry, has made it clear that he is looking for an improvement on last weekend's comprehensive win over Samoa. "I am looking for Wales to start against the United States as they finished against Samoa," he said.

So the Swansea trio has much to do. "It is a great day for Swansea having three front rowers," said Jenkins, who is one of seven All Whites in the starting line-up. "It is a reward for our performances in the Heineken Cup.

"We are a very good unit at club level, but now we have to show we can do it in Test rugby. None of us will be taking the United States lightly."

At 33, Jenkins may be the old man of the pack, but he is in his prime and as far as he is concerned today's match is the first of the rest of his Test career.

"I want to play against South Africa, then I want to take part in the Six Nations Championship," said Jenkins. "And I want to go on beyond that."

But it is not only the front row who have much to do. The fly-half Arwel Thomas is looking to keep Neil Jenkins on the bench for the Springboks match and in the second row Chris Wyatt is back and there is fierce competition for back-row places.

The Eagles No 8, Dan Lyle, admitted: "If we are honest it would take a poor performance from Wales and an absolutely fantastic one by us to win."

The former is the more likely, but Jenkins and and Co are on their guard.

WALES: R Williams (Cardiff); A Bateman (Northampton), M Taylor (capt), S Gibbs (both Swansea), D James (Llanelli); A Thomas (Swansea), R Howley (Cardiff); D Morris, G Jenkins, B Evans (all Swansea), I Gough (Newport), C Wyatt (Llanelli), N Budgett (Ebbw Vale), S Quinnell (Llanelli), C Charvis (Swansea). Replacements: N Jenkins (Cardiff), R Moon (Llanelli), G Lewis (Swansea), A Moore (Swansea), I Thomas (Ebbw Vale), A Lewis (Cardiff), G Thomas (Cardiff).

UNITED STATES: K Shuman; J Naivalu, P Eloff, J Grobler, M Delai; G Wells, K Dalzell; J Clayton, K Khasigian, P Still, L Gross, P Farner, D Hodges (capt), D Lyle, O Fifita. Replacements: R Flynn, T Kluempers, M Kane, A Magleby, M Timoteo, L Wilfley, J Keyter.

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