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Saturday 21 April 2018

Jenkins up for Wales ton

Gethin Jenkins
Gethin Jenkins

FRONT-ROW warrior Gethin Jenkins will clock up 100 caps for Wales today, five months after one of the "lowest points" in his rugby career.

The Cardiff Blues prop is set to join Welsh centurions Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas and Martyn Williams when he runs out against Millennium Stadium visitors Argentina (2.30).

It is 11 years since Jenkins, who will be 33 tomorrow, featured for his international debut against Romania.

Long since established among the finest loose-heads the professional era has seen, he has also had a fair share of setbacks, highlighted by this summer's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia when he flew 10,000 miles and did not play a game.

"It was probably one of my lowest points," said Jenkins, reflecting on the calf muscle problem that meant an early journey home from Down Under.

"Having to leave the Lions tour after working for years to get there, getting selected and then having to go home was tough."

But many highs have accompanied him on the road to hitting three figures, notably four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and a World Cup semi-final.

And the accolades have rightly flowed this week, with Wales coach Warren Gatland describing him as "a sensational player," assistant coach Rob Howley as "phenomenal" and his teammate Mike Phillips hailing Jenkins' "exceptional" ability.

"I suppose it's a weight off my mind, really," added Jenkins, on getting to 100 caps. "After the game perhaps I will think about it a bit more because you are so tied up in the week with the build-up to the game. I suppose that afterwards I can look back and think, 'Yes, I got to 100'.

"The game has got a lot more physical over the last few years. It has completely changed from the way it was when I first started. I don't remember much about my first cap, although I do remember being pretty nervous before it. It was up in Wrexham, which was a bit different from the Millennium Stadium, but I can't remember anything that happened in the game."

For the record, Wales won 40-3 and Mefin Davies and Martyn Madden were Jenkins' front-row colleagues.

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