Cardiff Blues have finally agreed a contract extension with Wales’ most capped prop Gethin Jenkins that will keep him at the Arms Park club into his 39th year.
Jenkins has been one of the mainstays of the Blues pack this season and has helped to steer them into the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup and to the verge of Champions Cup qualification for next season. His one-year deal will take him past his 38th birthday in November.
Capped a record 129 times by Wales and five times by the British & Irish Lions, Jenkins had been waiting for the Blues to appoint their new head coach for next season to secure his future. Now he can carry on with the revival at the Arms Park.
John Mulvihill, the new Aussie coach at the Blues from next season, had spoken to Jenkins on the phone, but still took his time to agree the extension. Had the Blues not agreed terms with Jenkins they could have found him playing against them next season given the level of interest in his signature.
All season long the age of the Blues front row trio of Jenkins (37), Matthew Rees (37) and Tau Filise (40) has been a talking point, but they have been the foundation on which the improved results have been forged. The Blues may have a great group of young props coming through, but they still need to learn their craft.
Two-times Wales tight head prop Dillon Lewis is one of those youngsters still waiting to make the breakthrough because of the old brigade, but has no concerns about waiting until he can prove his worth.
“They say it takes a while for a front row forward to mature and, hopefully, my time will come. Rugby as a whole is a frustrating game, and you have to take that as it comes, but it is a massive learning curve for players in the front row,” said Lewis.
“You have to be like a sponge and take in as much as you can from the senior players around you. The most influential one for me in Gethin because he sets incredibly high standards.
“If someone is walking, or goes into the breakdown too high, in training or in a game you will know about it. What he strives for is something that we can all look to.
“I used to chase Gethin for autographs when I was a youngster watching him play for Pontypridd and he has been massive for me as a youngster coming through. He has got so much to give and the knowledge he has got to pass on to us is priceless, something we can’t get from anyone else.”
Commonsense, it would seem, has finally prevailed at the Arms Park.