Ellis Jenkins believes Warren Gatland’s World Cup selection has become a lot more complicated thanks to the impact he and others made in North and South America.
The co-captain for the three-Test trip that brought a victory over South Africa and back-to-back successes against Argentina was one of a number of players to make their mark.
Now, as the tour party arrive home, the Cardiff Blues flanker is confident his youthful squad has delivered on their mission to improve strength in depth as the countdown to the tournament in Japan approaches the 12-month mark.
A comfortable 30-12 success over Argentina in Santa Fe not only sealed a first series win in the land of the Pumas since 1999, but also pushed Wales into third in World Rugby’s rankings.
Gatland’s men have jumped above rivals England and their young squad have shown impressive maturity in South America. It bodes well for Wales’ hopes of glory in Japan in 2019.
“We came on this tour with a lot of inexperience within the squad and we wanted to win three from three. To have done that is hugely pleasing,” Jenkins said.
“It’s been about discovering some strength in depth and the boys, including myself, knew there was an opportunity to put your hand up to be in the mix for World Cup selection.
“Lots of boys in different positions have done that and Warren has spoken about the headaches he’s got which is only a good thing for us.
“If you look at the last World Cup, a couple of injuries late on maybe hampered us a little bit and we’re hoping if something similar happens this time, there will be boys ready to step in.”
After downing South Africa 22-20 in Washington, Wales bullied Argentina in two straight games. Their performance in Santa Fe was their best of the tour.
Josh Adams’ solo wonder try and the boot of Rhys Patchell put Wales 19-5 up at the break, Bautista Delguy scoring Argentina’s effort.
After the break Hallam Amos finished off a fine team move and Patchell ended with a 20-point haul as even a late red card for Ross Moriarty for choking Nicolas Sanchez failed to alter Wales’ mood.
Argentina scored late on through Julian Montoya once Moriarty had left the field.
“We were a bit disappointed to have let in a score just before half time, but we came back out, re-set, and went again,” said Jenkins, who excelled with some fine breakdown work.
“It was a game we were fully in control of and we are really happy with the performance. We’re delighted to come away with a win and from a players’ point of view, that’s all we want.
“To be able find strength in depth and test new combinations for the World Cup in all three matches is big for us and to win the last two like we have in pretty dominant fashion is pleasing.”
Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade announced Saturday’s game with Scotland will be his last in charge after watching his team suffer a second straight defeat to Wales.
Gatland’s side have given the Pumas a lesson in defensive organisation and taking the chances that come your way as they have twice quietened the home crowd with ease.
“It was a hostile environment. We knew last week they expected to roll us over and we obviously matched them and we knew this week we’d have to go up a level again,” Jenkins said.
“I think we did that. Whenever you play two sevens the only difference is the set-piece, other than that you just play your own game.
“I enjoy playing with James Davies and we both did ourselves some favours on this trip.”