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Lions mine Welsh wisdom

allblacks.com in Invercargill     21 Jun 2005    

“There’s three test matches not one,” Jenkins told allblacks.com. “I’ve been saying to all the players that between the first and last Test there’s inevitably going to be changes... and they have to play for those opportunities.”

The man who played on the side of the scrum in Llanelli’s 9-3 win over the All blacks in 1972 - 80 minutes of rugby that possess almost religious significance in his home country - is clearly relishing a re-match.

“I think it is a group motivation. It’s a collective approach around these guys realising they are part of something very big and everyone has a big part to play. We’re growing a team... we are learning. Those little moments that have slipped away from us may become reality in the next game or two.”

Jenkins was adamant that the players left out of the Lions Test side would not be underestimating Southland in a few hours time.

“Its not only Gavin (Henson). There’s a lot of players all feel the same as Gav... and they’ve got to keep their heads up and use this game as a platform.

"We trained really well before coming down here and the boys are really up for this. It’s their chance to make a statement, so we’re not going to be surprised. There’s big teams fallen by the wayside down here - not only the Lions but Australia as well.”

One thing is certain: with his easy-going manner and dulcet Welsh tones, Jenkins is rapidly becoming a favourite amongst the local media.

He’s even still willing to answer questions about those hotly-contested breakdowns.

“It’s the spice of life,” Jenkins smiled broadly. “This is what makes touring. There was no doubt we hadn’t given them (breakdowns) enough time and it didn’t take us long to realise we had been quite naive - particularly against the Maori.

"What we’ve had to do is react quickly and I think it was a compliment from Otago to say we were 'bloody cheating' - it made us realise we were playing good rugby.”

Kick off at Rugby Park in Invercargill is at 7.10pm

Pack down with allblacks.com tonight for a full British & Irish Lions v Southland match report