Robin McBryde hails Jason Jenkins' impact since move from Munster

Robin McBryde has hailed South African lock Jason Jenkins for adding an extra dimension to Leinster’s play in the opening weeks of the new URC season
Robin McBryde hails Jason Jenkins' impact since move from Munster

BIG MAN, BIG IMPACT: Jason Jenkins has added an extra dimension to Leinster since his move from Munster, according to Leinster coach Robin McBryde. Pic: INPHO/Ben Brady

Robin McBryde has hailed South African lock Jason Jenkins for adding an extra dimension to Leinster’s play in the opening weeks of the new United Rugby Championship season.

Having spent last term at arch rivals Munster, Jenkins has found himself in the eastern province for the 2022/23 campaign. While injuries ensured the Pretoria native only lined out on 10 occasions for the Red Army - he had to wait until mid-December of last year to make his competitive bow - he has made a big impact thus far for his new employers.

In addition to a try-scoring debut away to Zebre in round one of the URC on September 17, Jenkins has delivered impressive displays in subsequent victories against Benetton and Ulster. As Leinster scrum coach, McBryde is seeing first-hand what the former Bulls player is bringing to the table.

“He’s been great. He was unlucky with injuries joining us in Leinster. I know the medical team has worked hard with him with regard to a finger injury he had when he arrived. It was very hard for him to hit the ground running right from the word go, without having had those minutes under your belt. Now that he has a clean bill of health, he is playing really well,” McBryde explained in a media briefing held at UCD on Monday.

“Away from the set-piece, he has put shots in around the field. Put himself about. Struck up a great relationship with Michael Ala’alatoa from a scrummaging point of view. Working well with Ross [Molony] there as a second-row partnership as well.

“I think he’ll keep on growing, he’ll keep getting better. I think it was the first 80 minute game he played the other week [against Benetton] for two years. Fair dues to him. He has made an impact right from the word go.” 

Given how little he had played down south, there were some eyebrows raised when Jenkins’ move to Leinster was announced back in February. By that stage, the 26-year-old - who has one senior international cap with the Springboks from 2018 - had made a single appearance for Munster.

Despite his injury profile (shoulder, thigh and abdominal issues disrupted his stint in Limerick), McBryde insists the reward you get from having someone like Jenkins in your squad far outweighs the risks that come with it.

“I’m sure they would have done their due diligence with regards to trying to sign somebody, but he sees the game differently. He’s South African. That’s the beauty of having a good mix of Kiwis or wherever players come from. They see the game differently.

“I suppose there’s a little bit of an inside track on what is going to come on Saturday with the Sharks as well. They’re going to ask big questions of us at set-piece time. A big, power-based team running hard around the corner. Hitting things, confrontational, physical. He carries that with him.” 

After making it three wins from three against Ulster in Belfast last weekend, Leo Cullen’s side will look to further cement their status as URC pace-setters when the aforementioned Sharks pay a visit to the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 5.05pm).

Although Jenkins will be available for selection along with James Ryan and Will Connors - both of whom came through the Ulster game with flying colours following their recent returns from respective hamstring and back injuries - Jamison Gibson-Park (hamstring), Ciarán Frawley (shoulder), Hugo Keenan (abdominal & knee injury) and James Lowe (calf) are amongst those who will be missing from action.

Caelan Doris, Rónan Kelleher and Dave Kearney are also doubtful for the visit of the Sharks to Ballsbridge, but will be further assessed as the week progresses.

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