Jenkins' Wales can draw on experience to beat Ireland

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·2 min read
Many of the players who helped Wales to secure the 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam can help them bounce back starting with victory over Ireland says assistant coach Neil Jenkins
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Experienced campaigners such as Alun Wyn Jones and George North are capable of turning Wales's fortunes around in their opening Six Nations match with Ireland this weekend, assistant coach Neil Jenkins said on Saturday.

Jones will lead out the most experienced side in Wales' proud rugby history in Cardiff -- 874 caps between them -- as they bid to give head coach Wayne Pivac a much needed victory.

Pivac guided the Welsh to just three wins -- Italy (twice) and Georgia -- in their 10 Tests in his first year in charge as they looked a shadow of the side that won the 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam under Warren Gatland.

The Irish beat them twice last year including a 32-9 thumping in November so the pressure is on to deny the Irish their first Six Nations win in Cardiff since 2013.

"It's all on the line tomorrow (Sunday) and we need to rock up, do what we can and take the game to Ireland as best we can," said Jenkins on Saturday.

"There is a lot of experience all the way through. The boys have had ups and downs in their careers.

"They have been there and done it. They have obviously seen the lows, and they have certainly seen the highs.

"If something doesn't go quite to plan, they seem to regroup and go again. They tend to do that pretty well."

Jenkins -- Wales's record points scorer -- sensed a more determined atmosphere since they gathered together for the tournament.

"We have to be better, full stop. There is no doubting that," Jenkins added.

"I think I've seen a difference in the last two weeks since we've been in.

"Since we've come in this time, I think we are at a different level.

"There is possibly a Lions tour looming as well, so you can definitely see an edge in the players."

Jenkins said there is a hunger in the squad to repeat the Grand Slam success of 2019.

"I know they would love to win it again, and as we said two years ago, momentum is a huge thing in this tournament and winning your first game can put you on a good road," said the 49-year-old former fly-half.

"If you don't win your first game, we go to Scotland the following week and it can be a tough road."

pi/bsp