Jenkins unrivalled, except by one

Guinness PRO12 Editor

9 Apr 2010


Gethin Jenkins is the world’s best rugby-playing prop, according to Cardiff Blues coach Dai Young.

Jenkins’ performances for club and country have seen his reputation spread far and wide over recent years and Young has no doubt that his 29-year-old star is the complete package.

Young, himself a formidable prop who toured three times with the Lions in 1989, 1997 and 2001, is convinced that Jenkins’ work-rate, tackle count, yardage, offloading ability, handling skills and setpiece work make him the most complete prop forward in the world.

But Young does admit that one man can rival Jenkins in terms of power and expertise, if not footballing ability.

That man is Carl Hayman – the former All Black tighthead who will come face-to-face with Jenkins when the Blues travel to Newcastle on Sunday for their Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.

"Look at the stats and Gethin’s work-rate is phenomenal,” said Young.

“Now and again people doubt his scrummaging, but when he’s asked to do it he can.

"Gethin will be licking his lips to face the world’s best – Carl is by far the best scrummaging tight-head in the world. 

"I’m really looking forward to the scrummaging battle, but I believe that Gethin stands on his own as a rugby-playing prop."

Hayman and Jenkins were on opposing sides when the Lions took on the All Blacks in the first Test in Christchurch five years ago and have also faced each other on three further occasions at Test level.

And although the Kiwis have came out on top each time, Jenkins’ own reputation has continued to flourish.

Jenkins played all three Tests for the 2009 Lions in South Africa and is now widely regarded as the world’s finest loosehead.

Throw in Hayman’s status as the best tighthead in the game and Sunday’s match up could be a real cracker. 

"I have clashed with Gethin on a few occasions at Test level and he is a great competitor," said Hayman, who will move to France to join Toulon next season.

"He has been involved in the Wales set-up for quite some time and that shows his quality.

"You don’t play that many games for your country, and the Lions, if you have any weaknesses. He is very good around the field and his scrummaging is very good as well.

"He is part of a very strong Cardiff Blues pack and it is going to be an interesting battle.”

The respect shown by Hayman is echoed by Jenkins.

The former Celtic Warriors and Pontypridd star knows just how good the giant Kiwi is, despite Hayman’s continued absence from international rugby due to his decision to move away from his native New Zealand.

"Hayman’s a great tight-head, one of the best in the world and one of the best I’ve played against,” said Jenkins.

"He’s technically good because he’s so tall yet gets close to the ground, but you always want to challenge yourself against the best in the business.

"It’s not just about me. The other seven forwards have to help out and as a pack we’ve got to stand up to them."