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Jenkins wants to lead by example ahead of first home start for Wales

16th November 2018

Ellis Jenkins insists his entire focus will be on leading by example, as he prepares to captain Wales for the first time at the Principality Stadium.

Having been skipper for the summer victory over South Africa in Washington DC, the Cardiff Blues back row makes his first home international start as Tonga visit Principality Stadium on Saturday.

The eight-times capped flanker, who points to Gethin Jenkins as a major influence, insists it’s important that Wales aren’t over-awed by the occasion on Saturday.

“I try to lead by example, because you’d struggle to get anyone to listen to what you’re saying if your performances don’t set the tone,” said Jenkins.

“My personal philosophy is to make sure my performances are as good as possible, and lead by example. 

“The captains I’ve worked under have certainly done that - you just have to look at Gethin Jenkins. He is a prime example as he was the best player on the pitch when he played, as well as in training, and that’s the biggest thing I try to do.

“It will be nice. I think there has been 60,000-odd tickets sold for tomorrow, and it will be a big occasion, as it is at any given time you get to play in this stadium.

“The big focus for me, and everyone else in the squad, will be on performing as well as possible, and that’s all that will matter to us.

“I’ve ran out here for Wales a couple of times off the bench so it will be nice to get my first start in the stadium. It’s a big game for a lot of us involved and is an occasion that we’re all really looking forward to.

“There will always be a little bit of nerves, and the bus journey in is probably the most nervous part of the day. 

“There’s so much atmosphere around. I did it for the first time in the Six Nations earlier this year and it’s surreal to see everyone cheering for the bus as you drive in.

“You need to try to stick to your routines and prepare yourself as well as you can for the game.

“A few from my mother’s side of the family are coming down from Liverpool, so there will be a few of them there watching, as well as mates from home. “

One of Jenkins’ eight caps to date came in Auckland, where Wales sealed a 24-6 win over Ikale Tahi at Eden Park in 2017.

The Cardiff Blues captain is aware of the dangers posed by the Pacific Islands-outfit, and insists it’s important for his side to maintain the defensive standards set in the recent victories over Scotland and Australia.

Jenkins said: “They can be dangerous, especially if the game gets loose. We drove them a lot because the weather conditions were awful in Auckland.

“We managed the game quite well in those conditions and ground them out, ran them around and tied them up to come through in the last 20 minutes, which is what could happen tomorrow.

“We’ve spoken about not getting carried away and getting pulled into the type of game that they want. 

“We’ve been really encouraged by our defensive efforts over the last two weeks, especially keeping Australia try-less last week.

“Shaun [Edwards] has laid that challenge down to us now, and with 14 changes it’s the standards that we have to maintain now.

“This game will be a good example of what’s to come in the World Cup, where you can play Australia one week and then come up against your likes of Georgia or Fiji. It’s a good test for us.”