By Rob Cole
While Ellis Jenkins waits to see a surgeon in London next week to discuss what happens to his injured knee, Cardiff Blues coach John Mulvihill is backing his skipper to be back in time to go to the World Cup next year.
The Blues have admitted that Jenkins suffered “a significant knee injury” against the Springboks last weekend, and that “specialist reviews are needed to establish an accurate prognosis following surgery”, but no time frame has been put on his potential return.
Last weekend Wales head coach Warren Gatland admitted it looked like an ACL injury to his right knee, with most players taking anything between six to nine months to recover properly.
Wales kick-0ff their World Cup campaign against Georgia on 23 September, 2019.
“We know it is a significant knee injury at the moment and he needs to consult a surgeon in London to get the final word on what course of action to take,” explained Mulvihill.
“His recovery will be mapped out along a timeline and guys like Ellis, who are committed to the cause, usually beat the timelines. He is someone who has come back from injury set-backs before and I’m sure he will use that energy he has to make as swift a recovery as possible.
“I’m sure he will aim to be back before the World Cup next year. All players going through a re-hab process map out their progress with the medical staff from getting off crutches, out of braces and into weight bearing and so on.
“However long he is out, we will support him along the way. The boys have been great with him about the place, but there are going to be periods in his recovery when he is going to feel pretty down and we just need to make sure we are there for him.”
Mulvihill admitted he knew instantly that it was a bad injury as he watched the closing moments of Wales’ victory over South Africa to complete an historic first clean-sweep of the Autumn series.
“It is devastating for him. I was watching the game with some friends and I told them he was going to be named the man of the match. Then 30 seconds later I saw the tackle and the clean out and I just knew he was done.
“It is a big blow for him because he was getting to finish that game on a high after putting in a lot of heart and soul over a good four week block for the national team. He played fantastically well, but sometimes rugby is cruel and that’s what happens.”
It was also a big blow for the Blues, who were badly beaten at Glasgow last weekend and have to get back on the horse against Ulster in Belfast on Saturday in the Guinness PRO14. Then they face back-to-back games against English champions Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Having seen former captain Sam Warburton retire at the start of the season, and now current skipper Jenkins go down with a lengthy injury, Mulvihill has lost some significant back row talent. But he still thinks there is enough strength in depth to cope with losses.
“We aren’t too bad in that area even though we’ve lost two Welsh captains from our back row this year in Sam and Ellis. We’ve got some good stocks there and we’ve got a couple of players coming back,” he said.
“Samu Manoa has come back fit after his short stint with the USA, Jim Botham is only a few weeks away and Josh Navidi will start in a few weeks time as well. Olly Robinson has been an absolute trooper for us and keeps on getting better and better each week.”
Scrum half Lloyd Williams is set to take on the captaincy role in Jenkins’ absence, with Josh Turnbull providing back up to him.