By Ossian Shine
TOKYO (Reuters) – When Wales tackle the might of South Africa on Sunday for a spot in the World Cup final, they do so in the knowledge that they are lining up behind one of their greatest ever rugby players, skills coach Neil Jenkins says.
Alun Wyn Jones will take the field for Wales for the 133rd time when the Welsh and Springboks clash at Yokohama International Stadium, something Jenkins says is an astonishing feat.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement, especially with the way he plays as well, you know? He’s in the second row which is one of the hardest positions in the game,” Jenkins told reporters in a Tokyo hotel.
“I was lucky enough to be involved with Alun Wyn in the under-21s in 2006 and I could already see he was a pretty special player.
“Probably didn’t think he was going to be as special as what he actually is, but he really is incredible and whatever plaudits and accolades come his way he certainly deserves it – unbelievable rugby player, he just leads from the front with his actions.”
Jenkins said it was the absolute commitment of the world’s most-capped forward that helped mark him out.
“I don’t know a 99 percent Alun Wyn, I only know 100, it’s plain and simple,” Jenkins shrugged.
“He’s an incredible athlete, rugby player, he demands excellence, demands the best from himself, and demands the best from people around him, and I think that shows in our environment and the way the boys go about their business.”
Jenkins said it was difficult to look past Welsh captain as one of the all-time greats of the game.
“He seems to get better with age … probably up there as one of the best if not the best … you can argue that.”
The winner of Sunday’s semi-final will meet either England or New Zealand in the Nov. 2 World Cup final.
(Reporting by Ossian Shine; editing by Richard Pullin)