Jenkins eyes Grand Slam treble

2012-03-15 08:22

Cardiff - Wales prop Gethin Jenkins is set to join a select group of players if his side win their third Grand Slam in eight seasons by beating France in their tournament finale on Saturday.

Jenkins, as well as current fellow internationals Ryan Jones and Adam Jones, was a member of the Wales team that won the 2005 and 2008 Grand Slams.

Now as many as 250 000 people are set to be thronging the city centre streets around Cardiff's Millennium Stadium where a full house of 75 000 is expected to watch Wales bid to round off their season in style.

"In 2005, probably because we hadn't won it (Grand Slam) for so long, it was just that little bit more of an occasion than in 2008," Jenkins said.

"Not taking anything away from 2008, but the whole atmosphere of 2005 was that much different because nobody had been there for 27 years since Wales last won the Grand Slam.

"In 2008, we had new coaches that had just come in and we weren't really expected to do anything in that tournament.

"But we just gradually built the momentum, and we were really confident we were going to win the final game (against France).

"We've been favourites in the last two games we have played this season, and it is not often you can say about a Wales team, not when I have been involved, anyway.

"In the past, we haven't been favourites, we've come under the radar to win those Grand Slams, although I don't think I would ever say we were favourites against France."

Jenkins added it was important his team-mates did not get caught up in the hype enveloping rugby-mad Wales.

"The main thing is blocking out anything in the exterior," he said.

"Twice I have been involved in previous Grand Slams, the week has just flown by. It is not until a couple of months after that you realise how big a deal it was and how much was actually on the game.

"The week takes care of itself. You are worried about your own job and making sure on the day you perform.

"They are six days you have got to savour. It's a short turnaround from last weekend, so we have really got to get ourselves mentally and physically ready."

World Cup finalists France had been tipped as Grand Slam contenders themselves only for their clean sweep bid to be derailed by a draw with Ireland and last weekend's defeat by England in Paris.

But Jenkins said of France, who beat Wales in a nailbiting World Cup semi-final in Auckland: "They consistently turn up and beat some of the best sides in the world.

"They can play great rugby at times, and the loss they had (against England) is only going to spur them on to come over and play well against us.

"We know exactly how tough a challenge it is going to be, and how good they are. They've got players who can break you at any time in the game.

"We've had a good bit of momentum from the World Cup, and now it comes down to one big game, and we need really to drive it home and get a win."

Wales coach Warren Gatland is due to name his side on Thursday, with the only expected change from the team that beat Italy last weekend the return of captain Sam Warburton, provided the openside flank is fit following a knee problem.