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One Hard Luck Story Is Enough For Wales Captain Dafydd Jenkins

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By Gareth James

Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins wants no more pats on the back for near misses or heroic, but doomed, fightbacks.

Jenkins takes his team to Twickenham on Saturday for round two of the Six Nations with one outcome on his mind – winning.

No more hard luck stories, or dreamy what-might-have-beens, as followed the dramatic 27-26 home defeat to Scotland last week.

“England v Wales is always massive because of the history involved in the fixture. It is a must win game for us because of where we are in the tournament,” said Jenkins.

“It is all about winning – it doesn’t really mean anything if you don’t win. Twickenham would be a great place to win for any Welshman, but especially for me as I play over there.

“I’m looking to get one over on Henry Slade and my Exeter Chiefs clubmates.”

One of those will be Cardiff-born wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who is on the bench in England’s unchanged side from their opening round win over Italy in Rome.

He had the choice of opting for England or Wales, but Wales coach Warren Gatland has pointed out there were no special plans for him following his decision to turn his back on the nation of his birth.

“We haven’t even spoken about him, he’s made his decision so good look to him. There’s been no mention of his name,” said Gatland.

“It doesn’t add any extra spice. There are a lot of players from both countries who are dual-qualified. Like I said, good luck to him – I hope things go well for him.”

England insist Feyi-Waboso is ready to face Wales after Steve Borthwick selected an unchanged team for the clash at Twickenham.

Feyi-Waboso made his Test debut as a late replacement in the round one victory over Italy and he continues on the bench for the visit of Gatland’s men.

The 21-year-old wing sensation has pledged allegiance to England despite being born and raised in Cardiff, prompting Gatland to remark that his decision had not gone down well across the border.

Borthwick had no hesitation giving Feyi-Waboso, who has been in electric form for Exeter this season, the opportunity to win his second cap.

Jenkins has highlighted the enormity of victory at Twickenham if Wales can end their long wait for a Six Nations away win against England.

It has only happened twice since the tournament began 24 years ago, with Exeter lock Jenkins bidding to emulate previous Wales captains Ryan Jones (2008) and Sam Warburton (2012) in toppling England on home soil.

Jenkins, the youngest Wales skipper since Sir Gareth Edwards in 1968, was a junior school pupil when Scott Williams’ late try secured a Triple Crown triumph at Twickenham during the 2012 campaign.

“There were a lot of emotions at half-time last week. We felt like we were letting a lot of people down,” added the skipper.

“We did well to nearly get ourselves out of the hole but we didn’t. Hopefully, we won’t put ourselves in that position again.

“We definitely felt like we grew in terms of the performance – a lot of people stepped up in the second-half.”

While Wales victories are rare in the professional era at Twickenham, head coach Warren Gatland bucks the trend.

He was Wales boss in 2008 and 2012 and masterminded a 2015 World Cup win, while he also won a hat-trick of Premiership titles with Wasps, in addition to the club’s 2004 European Cup final success.

Gatland said: “We need to start a lot better than last week. We need to reduce the amount of turnovers.

“The second-half was reflective of how we played against Australia in the World Cup (Wales won 40-6), with a 10 or 11 per cent turnover rate. That makes a huge difference.

“A number of those things were in our own control, with penalties or lineouts that we weren’t accurate enough. We have worked hard this week in trying to rectify these things.”

Central to Wales’ victory bid will be fly-half Ioan Lloyd, who makes his first Wales start after three appearances off the bench in three years.

With Sam Costelow injured and Dan Biggar having retired from Test rugby, 22-year-old Lloyd now steps up for the biggest game of his life.

“We can see what a quality footballer and running threat he is,” Gatland added.

“He probably realises there is less space and not so many opportunities as a running threat at Test level. It maybe only happens once or twice a half.

“His game management is pretty important. Also, his communication with his outside backs and forwards, scanning and seeing what options are on.

“He is an instinctive player, so we need to allow him that opportunity to express himself, but it is also him being smart and saying that it’s not forcing it and not going after things when there isn’t that chance.”

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