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Pivac outlines important future role for returning Wales star Jenkins

Pivac outlines important future role for returning Wales star Jenkins

Wayne Pivac

Wayne Pivac predicts Ellis Jenkins will play a big leadership role for Wales going forward after making his international return in the 23-18 defeat to South Africa.

The 28-year-old Cardiff Rugby flanker last played for his country in November 2018, coincidentally against the Springboks, having suffered a serious knee injury in the final minute of his team’s 20-11 victory.

Jenkins was man of the match on that day and produced a similarly impressive performance on his return in the red jersey despite ending up on the losing side in Cardiff.

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And Pivac hailed his returning No.6 for the maturity he showed over the 80 minutes in the absence of more established leaders such as Alun Wyn Jones and Ken Owens.

“Yes, he was [captain when Jonathan Davies went off],” he said.

“He’s an important player and that with Alun Wyn [Jones] out at the moment with an injury you’re looking for others to lead in the forwards. Justin Tipuric would normally be the stand in.

“Then you’d go to Ken Owens but with those players away, Ellis Jenkins not only did he play well but at times he had a leadership role out there along with Adam Beard.

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“Those two were hugely important for us in terms of leadership.”

Jenkins was not the only fresh face who performed well on Saturday evening and Pivac believes his players will learn a lot from the defeat to the reigning world champions.

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“Well, I think playing South Africa in those conditions which are ideal for the way they want to play the game, it was going to be a testing time for us,” he said.

“I thought we stood up to that test very well. As you say, a couple of penalties – one just before half-time, one that led to the driven lineout try.

“If we can tidy up those areas of our game we can be very competitive against one of the best sides in the world and the current world champions in their own conditions.

“It was a big tick in the box as far as the coaching group was concerned but always there are things we need to take out of that game and improve on.”

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Taine Basham was another player who earned plaudits for the hosts, a week after also impressing against the All Blacks, and Pivac expects the 22-year-old to only go from strength to strength.

“He had another good game, very good game. He’ll learn from that game though when he goes to look at the breakdown,” said Pivac, when asked about Basham’s display.

“We wanted to really push the boundaries in these conditions and we did, but we overstepped the mark a couple of times and those are the penalties.

“We’ve got to make better decisions from time to time and there was one there Taine might have given away which is a learning for him and we’ve got to make sure we get that out of our game over the next two matches.”

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On the conditions, he added: “If the roof was closed or the sun was out, we would have definitely played a lot more, but that ball was very wet and slippery.

“There was a lot of rain coming down in the pre-match warm up and we changed our tactics before kick-off so we just had to go with the conditions.

“You saw when we were trying to play it’s very hard to move the ball with a wet ball and it’s a lot easier to come off the line with line speed from a defensive side, as you saw from the last 10 minutes.”

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