Ellis Jenkins Plans One Last Cardiff Arms Park Goodbye

LLANELLI, WALES - APRIL 02: Ellis Jenkins (C) of Cardiff Rugby during warm up prior to the Scarlets v Cardiff Rugby match in the United Rugby Championship at Parc y Scarlets on April 02, 2022 in Llanelli, Wales. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

Ellis Jenkins Plans One Last Cardiff Arms Park Goodbye

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By Gareth James

Ellis Jenkins is determined to bow out with one more match at Cardiff Arms Park before he brings down the curtain on an illustrious career.

The Wales international has confirmed he will retire at the end of the season after worsening knee problems.

But the 30-year-old is determined to go out with one final display, and plans to wave farewell by playing against Edinburgh at the Arms Park on Saturday.

“There are still a few games left this season, which we are all highly motivated for and on a personal level, to have the chance to run out at Cardiff Arms Park one more time is something that will mean a huge amount,” said Jenkins.

The flanker, who progressed right through the Cardiff pathway, has made the decision to prioritise life after rugby after battling back from a near career-ending knee injury, which still requires continued management.

Since making his debut for the club during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Jenkins racked up 147 first team appearances and established himself as a key figure and leader at the Arms Park.

His crowning moment came in Bilbao as he led Cardiff to a second European Challenge Cup title.

However, his career was derailed less than six months later as he suffered a significant ACL knee injury as he helped Wales to victory over South Africa with a man-of-the-match performance at the Principality Stadium.

The 30-year-old displayed remarkable resilience and professionalism to return to action after two agonising years on the sidelines, adding 43 club appearances and a further four Test caps to his name.

But he will now draw the curtain on his playing career to focus on family and his next steps for a life outside rugby.

Jenkins said: “I told Jockey (Matt Sherratt, Cardiff coach) at the start of the season that this would be my last and after 13 years, it feels like the right time.

“There have been a lot of highs and lows through my career and obviously my knee still requires a lot of management, particularly if I’m playing week in, week out. I am no longer able to train at the way I would like, which is frustrating.

“It’s been tough physically and mentally but I am enormously proud of everything I have achieved in my career, particularly coming back from such a big injury to play for Cardiff and Wales again.

“The highs are of course things like Bilbao, derbies and European occasions at the Arms Park, winning my first cap and captaining Wales, but also the experiences, travel and friendships rugby has given me.

“I have been very fortunate and I am enormously grateful to everyone who has supported me on my journey from my family and friends, to my coaches and teammates, to the supporters, who have always been great.

“I am now looking forward to enjoying rugby from the terrace with a beer, doing all the things I could not do as a player and leading a fit and active life with my young family.

The 30-year-old spent his early years with Llantwit Fardre and was educated at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School.

He was identified as a leader from an early stage as he progressed through the Cardiff age-grade sides before transferring those traits to the international stage.

Jenkins played a key role as Wales became the first team to beat New Zealand at Under-20 level in 2012 and led the side to a second-placed finish a year later.

By that point he had already made his first team debut for Cardiff, featuring in the Anglo Welsh Cup against Newcastle Falcons, and had fully established himself by the 2013-14 season.

Speaking of his contribution to the club, Cardiff Rugby chair, Alun Jones, said: “Ellis has been an outstanding player and ambassador for the club for so many years and can be incredibly proud of his career.

“He is not only a wonderful player but a great leader and the resilience he showed to overcome the injury he suffered in 2018, is an inspiration to us all. To continue playing for Cardiff and to return to the international stage is no mean feat.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, I would like to congratulate Ellis on an incredible career and l look forward to watching him one more time at the Arms Park this weekend.”

Head coach Matt Sherratt added: “It’s always a sad moment when a player retires, particularly one of Ellis’ calibre and stature in the game, but he can be enormously proud of everything he has achieved both in a Cardiff and Wales jersey.

“Not only does he possess a brilliant, natural understanding of the game, he is a great professional, role model and leader within the environment, who has been a key figure throughout my time at the club.

“The injury he suffered playing for Wales in 2018, was obviously a big moment in his career. He was at the peak of his powers, having just led the club the European Challenge Cup career.

“To come back from that injury tells you everything you need to know about his determination and resilience.

“He has remained an important figure here and his performances this season have been right up there.

“It is brilliant that Ellis will get one last chance to run out at the Arms Park and we are all hoping for a bumper crowd.”

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