Ellis Jenkins wants Wales to go toe-to-toe with leading sides more often

Countdown already under way to the start of Wales’ Six Nations title defence.

By Press Association Published: 21 November 2021 - 10.00pm

Ellis Jenkins has targeted Wales “regularly” beating southern hemisphere opposition after posting a third successive victory over Australia.

A 29-28 win made it the first time for 46 years that Wales have recorded such a feat against the Wallabies.

The Autumn Nations Series campaign, though, also saw them comprehensively beaten by New Zealand and edged out 23-18 by world champions South Africa in a game that Wales led until seven minutes from time.

“It is good that we are competing with these teams,” Wales captain Jenkins said.

“But to succeed in what we want, you have to be beating these teams regularly, and in the Six Nations as well, you have got to be beating those teams regularly.

“It was a tough run of autumn fixtures, and it was a good challenge for us.

“The first two (autumn games) got away from us. It was a big performance against South Africa, and probably New Zealand up until about 60 minutes was a good performance from us.”

England v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
George North was among Wales’ Autumn Nations Series absentees (Adam Davy/PA)

Wales’ autumn series was perhaps most notable for those who played little or no part in it.

A brutal injury list currently includes the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty and Ken Owens.

But with Wales’ Six Nations title defence beginning against Ireland in Dublin on February 5, there will be hopes that some of those players can recover in time to take a place on the starting grid.

Jenkins added: “I think we will probably be in a different position then, with some boys coming back from injury who have perhaps been out for a long time – some key figures for us.

“And no doubt, there are going to be some injuries to the boys who have played during this campaign over the next eight-10 weeks, but it is a different campaign, a different challenge.

“Six Nations is competition-mode, and we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Jenkins, who returned to Test rugby this month following a three-year injury absence, has only played in one Six Nations game before, going on as a substitute against Italy in 2018.

“I was in the stadium when they won the Grand Slam in 2019, and it was a real bittersweet moment for me,” he said.

Ireland v Scotland – Autumn Nations Cup – Aviva Stadium
Wales face a Six Nations opener against Ireland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium (Brian Lawless/PA)

“To see them winning was obviously amazing, but not to be part of it was disappointing for myself. It is something I am looking forward to, but there is a lot of rugby to be played before then.

“I am over the moon to be back playing for Wales. That is the goal, then when you get there, your goals change and you want to be striving for better things, and now I am sort of nit-picking with the performances.

“I am more aware than anyone that I have still got stuff to work on, particularly physically.

“Coming back from an injury like the one I had, my sole focus for so long was to get back on the pitch.

“Now, my focus is stay on the pitch and also improve myself that I can do what I believe is justice for myself. It is not going to happen overnight, but it is hopefully a work in progress.”

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