Senior statesman Gethin Jenkins has backed reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales to recover from their Dublin debacle and retrieve a campaign that is hovering on the brink.
Victory over unbeaten Millennium Stadium visitors France tonight would put Wales back in the title mix and revive hopes of achieving Six Nations silverware for an unprecedented third successive season.
This week’s build-up has been dominated by Wales coach Warren Gatland delivering a no-nonsense reminder to his players about the standards required.
Three Six Nations titles and two Grand Slams since Gatland took charge for the 2008 season underline how he is not used to failure in European rugby’s blue riband tournament.
Star scrum-half Mike Phillips paid the price for Wales’ 26-3 drubbing against Ireland a fortnight ago by being axed in favour of Rhys Webb — a Test rookie in comparison — with Gatland warning that international careers will be on the line should there be any further Six Nations no-shows.
Triple Grand Slam-winner Jenkins will pack down for his 103rd cap — one short of equalling Stephen Jones’ Wales record — and he knows what is required.
“There are a lot of words being said, but we just need to get out there and perform now. There are a lot of boys upset with the way we performed [against Ireland], and we know we can do better,” Cardiff Blues prop Jenkins said.
“The senior boys are probably the ones under the most pressure. They know that. We all know we need to do better. We [the senior men] are the ones leading the team, we are the ones who drive the standards, who drive training, and when things go wrong the pressure comes on to us because we are the ones leading it. You wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’ve obviously had a good look at ourselves, and this week has been about building again. We are still in the tournament, and we have still got to aim for four out of five wins.”
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