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Warren Gatland Backs Dafydd Jenkins To Be Wales Cornerstone By Next World Cup

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By David Parsons

Warren Gatland is not only backing Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins to be up to the task of captaining Wales in the Guinness Six Nations, but also to develop into a major player for his country in the build-up to the next World Cup.

The 21-year-old Jenkins was named as Wales captain in succession to injury victims Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake, who co-captained Wales at the World Cup in the first half of the season.

They are both ruled out of the upcoming tournament with knee and hamstring injuries respectively.

That has opened the door for the 12-times capped Jenkins, who will become the second youngest Wales captain of all-time.

The record is held by Sir Gareth Edwards, who was 20 years, 207 days old when he led Wales against Scotland in 1968.

Jenkins will be 21 years, 60 days old if he leads the side out against the Scots on the opening weekend of the 2024 Six Nations.

That means he will overtake Sam Warburton, who was 22 years, 242 years of age when he first led Wales against the Barbarians in 2011,

He went on to lead Wales into two World Cups as he captained Wales a record 49-times.

Gatland is renowned for backing youth, just as he did with Morgan (23 years, 195 days) and Lake (24 years, 123 days), he hasn’t been afraid to give youth its chance.

Edwards became captain for the first time in his fifth international. Warburton first led his country in his 15th international, while Morgan’s debut in charge was in his 10th game in a senior Wales jersey and for Lake the ultimate honour came in his 10th capped appearance.

“There’s a lot of competition in the second row but I definitely see Dayfdd as one for the future.

“By the time the next World Cup comes around he’s going to be a definite starter and he’s putting a lot of pressure on at the moment,” said Gatland.

“We’re trying to develop a lot of the youngsters over the next three or four years. If you look at the average age of the squad at the moment, it’s about 25.

“We want the squad to be mid-to-late 20s with players who have 30, 40 or 50 caps behind them. That’s now part of the plan and part of the preparation.”

Wales kick-off their 2024 Six Nations campaign at a sold-out Principality Stadium on Saturday, 3 February (4.45pm kick-off).

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