Six Nations 2017: Wales' Neil Jenkins defends 'fantastic' Alex Cuthbert

Alex Cuthbert
Alex Cuthbert scored a try for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against Australia in 2013

Neil Jenkins has defended Wales wing Alex Cuthbert following criticism of his defence in England's 21-16 Six Nations win in Cardiff.

Cuthbert, 26, was a late replacement for the injured George North and was the last defender when Elliot Daly scored his match-winning try.

Ex-Wales wing Shane Williams believes the coaches should stop picking the Cardiff Blues wing, but kicking coach Jenkins disagrees.

"I'm a big fan of Cuthy," he said.

"I think he's an outstanding rugby player but for some reason everybody seems to pick on Cuthy.

"I keep telling Alex, Grand Slam, Championship, British Lion try-scoring winning winner. It's not bad is it? I don't think it is anyway.

"If someone was going to say to me you're going to do something like that in your career I think you'd put your hand up and say 'well, I'm not too bad a player'.

Wales in the 2017 Six Nations
Sunday, 5 February: Italy 7-33 Wales
Saturday, 11 February: Wales 16-21 England
Saturday, 25 February, 14:25 GMT: Scotland v Wales
Friday, 10 March, 20:05 GMT: Wales v Ireland
Saturday, 18 March, 14:45 GMT: France v Wales

"I'm not a believer in all of that, obviously Shane was an outstanding rugby player himself and he's entitled to his opinion.

"Cuthy is a fantastic rugby player, he's been outstanding for Wales and in my view you get behind players and don't need to criticise them."

Cuthbert was making his 46th appearance for Wales and has scored 15 tries - including the touchdown that beat France in the 2012 Grand Slam decider and two against England when Wales won the 2013 Six Nations title.

But he has not scored in his past 12 appearances and was not in the match-day squad before North's late withdrawal.

Jenkins, Wales' record points scorer, also defended centre Jonathan Davies' clearance kick which presented England with the opportunity to score their winning try.

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Six Nations 2017 highlights: Wales 16-21 England

He said Wales did not have hard and fast rules about not kicking for touch in defensive positions, but conceded the clearance probably did not last where Davies intended.

"Who's to say that if Jon had kicked that ball into touch they don't get something from the driving lineout, because they caused us a few problems in the second half," added Jenkins.

"We're all in it together and there's no one person to blame - Jon's made the decision.

"The kick is long and we've got people in positions to make tackles and obviously we weren't able to do that.

"I think if Jon's honest he's aiming more towards the touchline than the five metre line, it's obviously come a bit infield and and it's a little bit of an error but that's life and you move on.

"No-one goes out to do that and you've just got to back the player and we should have made our tackles from there anyway."

Wales play Scotland in the third round of Six Nations matches on 25 February.

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