Rugby World Cup 2011: Price backs Wales' Jenkins Cup 'gamble'

Gethin Jenkins
Gethin Jenkins is Wales' most-capped prop forward

Wales legend Graham Price has backed Warren Gatland's "gamble" of picking British and Irish Lions prop Gethin Jenkins in Wales' World Cup squad.

Wales coach Gatland named Jenkins in his 30-man squad even though the 30-year-old loose-head has not played since having toe surgery in January.

Gatland admitted his "risk" but made an "allowance" because Jenkins is an "absolute world class player."

"It is a gamble but it is a calculated risk," said former Wales prop Price.

Gatland has already confirmed Wales will be without Jenkins, who is currently recovering from a calf problem, for their World Cup Pool D opener against South Africa on 11 September in Wellington.

Wales have already lost Lions hooker Matthew Rees, who requires neck surgery, while tight-head prop Adam Jones has played just once since recovering from a toe problem.

Gatland has named loose-head cover in his 30-man Wales squad as Ospreys pair Paul James and Ryan Bevington will travel to New Zealand.

But Wales hope double Grand Slam winner Jenkins, who has won 76 Wales caps and is a two-time Lions tourist, will be fit for their second World Cup game against Samoa on 18 September.

And Gatland admits: "If he does get any recurrence of that injury over the next few weeks we are going to have to make a decision to pull him out of our squad."

But the Wales coach wants to give Jenkins time such is his quality and value to the team.

And Price feels "under the circumstances" a player of Jenkins' "calibre" is worth the risk.

"He adds so much more than the scrum," he said.

"You see Gethin's tackles around the field, he does so much work in the loose that it is a good idea to take him even though it is going to be a risk.

"I know he hasn't played in a very long time. He demonstrated he is a world class player on the last Lions tour and I hope he does recover that form for the World Cup.

"I don't see fitness being too much of a problem because all of the players are very fit as the players demonstrated in the warm-up games this summer.

"Okay he may be rusty but they do a lot of contact work in the training sessions and they'll have all of the moves worked out."

Jenkins is one of the best loose-heads in the world but the Cardiff Blues man last played for Wales in the 25-37 defeat to New Zealand in November 2010.