Gethin Jenkins: Wales' record cap holder relishing every game

Gethin Jenkins in action for Cardiff Blues
Gethin Jenkins started his career with Pontypridd before making his regional debut with the now-defunct Celtic Warriors

Wales and British and Irish Lions prop Gethin Jenkins says he is making the most of the time he has left in rugby.

The 35-year-old is set to make his 127th appearance for Wales against Australia on 5 November, extending his national cap record.

The game falls 14-years to the week after he made his debut in a 40-3 win against Romania in 2002.

"You appreciate every game. Some people only get one opportunity to play for their country," he said.

"The games are the biggest motivation for me and there's nothing better than running out at the Millennium.

"That's probably the biggest thing I'll miss; the preparation, the physio, the training and all that which leads up to running out and playing for your country."

Jenkins has been a cornerstone of Wales' pack since making his debut when current New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was in charge of Wales.

Since then another seven coaches - including those who have taken temporary charge - have held the reins in Cardiff.

Gethin Jenkins celebrates his try for Wales against Ireland in 2005
Gethin Jenkins scored the opening try for Wales when they clinched the 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam against Ireland

Jenkins, by contrast, has been practically an ever-present.

He is one of three players who played in all three of Wales' Six Nations Grand Slams in that period along with Ryan Jones and his long-time prop partner Adam Jones.

But in that time Jenkins has only been in one winning Wales team team against Australia.

"It's not a great record," said Jenkins.

"But some of those losses have come in the last play of the game. That makes it even harder to swallow. But we have belief in ourselves playing at home.

"Like we experienced in the summer against New Zealand, they are used to playing at that high level of high intensity and we've come up short in the past."

The Wallabies arrive in Wales having suffered a series whitewash at home against England and have lost three times against New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup.

Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins after winning the 2008 Grand Slam
Gethin Jenkins (right) and Ryan Jones were both in three Wales teams to win the Grand Slam

"They've had it tough in the Four Nations, but I think they've put in better performances in the last few weeks," he added.

"We know from our experience with them how good a team they are and how hard they are to beat."

Asked to reflect on his career to this point, Jenkins says reaching a century of appearances for Wales is a particular highlight.

"It was a big thing for me getting to 100 (caps). It would be special for any player," he said.

And on the question of his longevity as a top-class player, he credits another famous Wales prop.

"I got looked after in the Blues when I was a little bit younger and Dai Young was in charge," he said.

"He'd rest me for a few away games where there wasn't so much qualification on the line and since turning 30 I've been looking after myself a bit more."