Berliner Boersenzeitung - Wales skipper Jenkins uncomfortable with 'underdog' tag

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Wales skipper Jenkins uncomfortable with 'underdog' tag
Wales skipper Jenkins uncomfortable with 'underdog' tag / Photo: Glyn KIRK - AFP

Wales skipper Jenkins uncomfortable with 'underdog' tag

Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins says being underdogs does not sit well with him but admits the tag will stick to them until they beat sides like Six Nations titleholders Ireland on Saturday.

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Few think that will happen with bookmakers favouring a 23-point winning margin for the Irish, who are bidding for a third win of the campaign in their pursuit of unprecedented back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.

Jenkins, by contrast, who was handed the captaincy in the absence of World Cup co-captains Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake who were ruled of the tournament through injury, is seeking a first win as skipper after narrow losses to Scotland (27-26) and England (16-14).

The 21-year-old second row forward -- the youngest Welsh captain since Gareth Edwards in 1968 -- says he understands that pretty much everybody expects an Irish win.

Andy Farrell's side are looking for an 18th successive home win at Lansdowne Road and their 11th consecutive Six Nations victory -- which would equal England's record run from 2015-17.

"You don't like being underdogs because you work so hard to be the best, but that's the state we are in," said Jenkins.

"Fair play to Ireland, they are a class outfit and have demonstrated why they are the best team in the world in the last couple of weeks.

"We have had that underdog tag for quite a while now, but (are) still not winning.

"We are chasing that win and there is no pressure on us, we've got nothing to lose. We just need to go out there, leave everything out there and see what can happen."

- 'No fear' -

Wales's Six Nations record in the past few years has been dire -- losing nine out of their last 10 including at home to Italy in 2022.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said being underdogs is "not a motivation", that being motivated comes from putting pressure on themselves to improve.

The New Zealander can see a way to victory against Ireland, who he coached at the turn of the century, which is to unsettle their opponents by turning the pressure on them.

"We have spoken all week about having no fear," said Gatland.

"It is going to be a huge challenge for us.

"I have spoken to the players about stepping up in big moments and being the one who wants to be part of a big moment and not having any fear about that, not going into your shell."

Jenkins says he has "100 percent belief" they can achieve a shock win.

"If we didn't think that, there would be no point in going there in the first place," said the Exeter lock.

"We have full confidence we can win and do a job, although it is going to be tough.

"There is a lot of excitement. It is exciting to challenge ourselves against the best with no fear and no pressure."

(A.Lehmann--BBZ)