Wigan deny Jenkins deal

Rugby league
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The Independent Online
THE Wigan chairman, Jack Robinson, last night denied reports that his club were about to sign the Pontypridd and Wales stand-off, Neil Jenkins.

"I think he has the potential to be a very good rugby league player," said Robinson of the man who scored eight points in Wales's 26-13 in Edinburgh yesterday. "That is all I have ever said and I have never spoken to him about signing for Wigan."

The dominant club in British rugby league are due to lose their stand- off and goal-kicker, Frano Botica, to the Auckland Warriors at the end of this season, but Robinson would not comment on conjecture that Botica is having second thoughts.

Jenkins's countrymen in the professional game today go into into one of their most significant natches for some time. The European Championship might not denote a great deal in the game at the moment, but it is long enough since Wales tasted success in it to give today's decider with France in Carcassonne some importance.

When Wales last won this sporadically contested tournament, by beating England at Odsal and France at Llanelli in 1938, legends like Jim Sullivan and Gus Risman were in their side. Some of this afternoon's Welsh representatives are more legendary in the Pennines than the Valleys, but victory will be none the less sweet for that.

Wales should be good enough to do it. With Jonathan Davies and Allan Bateman able to make the trip and John Devereux restored to fitness, they look more convincing than a French side who performed with some credit against England in Gateshead but who have been forced by injury into a series of changes in the forwards.

Perhaps the hardest decision for the Welsh manager and coach, Mike Nicholas and Clive Griffiths, has been to relegate Phil Ford to the bench in order to accommodate the return of Devereux. It is treatment that Ford will not relish, but Devereux is such a potentially destructive player that it had to be done.