Dafydd Jenkins’ leadership skills praised as Wales face captaincy decision
Exeter lock Dafydd Jenkins could find himself part of the discussions about the captaincy of Wales ahead of this season’s Six Nations Championship.
And Jenkins’ leadership qualities have received a ringing endorsement from his Exeter boss Rob Baxter, who believes he is “exactly the kind of guy you want as captain of your team”.
Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan led Wales in their last capped game – a World Cup quarter-final defeat against Argentina – but he is currently sidelined due to a knee injury.
It is understood Morgan might not play any part in the Six Nations, while Wales’ tournament opener against Scotland is just three weeks away.
Candidates to replace him are likely to include Morgan’s Ospreys colleagues Dewi Lake and Adam Beard, especially as Lake was named by Wales head coach Warren Gatland as a World Cup co-captain with Morgan.
Lock Will Rowlands and flanker Tommy Reffell, a former Wales Under-20 skipper, might also be in the mix, yet Jenkins’ current credentials should attract Gatland’s attention.
The second-row forward only turned 21 in December, yet his calm authority has surged through a new-look Exeter team following the departure last summer of star names such as Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers.
He has guided Exeter to a strong position among the Gallagher Premiership title contenders, while they are also well-placed in Europe.
Victory over Sandy Park visitors Glasgow on Saturday could secure a round-of-16 place for the Chiefs with one pool game to spare following impressive wins against former European champions Toulon and Munster.
“I probably can’t say enough good things about Daf. He pretty much gets everything right,” Baxter said.
“Attitudinally he is good, individually he wants to improve and be successful, and he wants to be part of a collective improvement.
“He understands the importance of the team, he is a good squad man, club-man and team-mate. There are a lot of really good qualities to Daf.
“Our job is to try not to put too much on his shoulders, but at the same time he is exactly the kind of guy you want as captain of your team.”
Jenkins has won 12 caps for Wales and he featured in the match-day 23 for all five of Wales’ World Cup fixtures, which included starts against Portugal and Georgia.
And, while Rowlands and Beard have proved an impressive second-row partnership at Test level, Jenkins’ form suggests he could challenge strongly for a starting spot.
Baxter added: “It didn’t take long to see he (Jenkins) has a lot of leadership qualities.
“He has shown those qualities of being someone who sets very high standards for himself and for the players around him.
“I made the decision we were going to chuck the young lads in there and get on with it.
“And if you are doing that all over the pitch, you might as well do it at captain as well, especially if you have got a guy who is going to be doing it down the line.”
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