Wales coach Rob Howley has once more put the team dynamic before individuals with his choice of captain for tomorrow’s RBS Six Nations title decider against England in Cardiff.
Howley yesterday appointed Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins as the third different skipper of this season’s Six Nations campaign, following Sam Warburton and Ryan Jones.
Like Warburton and Jones, Jenkins offers previous experience of the role, latterly against Italy a year ago. Jones broke a shoulder bone in last weekend’s victory over Scotland, and he is replaced in the back row by Justin Tipuiric, with Warburton wearing Wales’ No 6 shirt.
Howley has decided for a second successive game not to reinstall Warburton – last season’s Grand Slam skipper – as captain, preferring instead to let him concentrate on his own game.
That approach worked a treat at Murrayfield six days ago when Warburton delivered a towering man-of-the-match display.
“Sam really enjoyed the preparation last week, and then the way he played against Scotland – he was man of the match,” said Howley, who has maintained an open dialogue with Warburton throughout the tournament.
“I think it speaks volumes for Sam. One thing about our squad is how selfless they are, and I said I would rather stick to my preparation [of last week].
“In terms of Gethin, he is vastly experienced and has captained Wales previously, including many times when Sam or Ryan has gone off in a game.
“Leadership is not just about the captain, it is about the unity within the squad.
“We are lucky enough to have a number of leaders who can step up, and Gethin has that responsibility this weekend,” added Howley.
“Sam has been outstanding over the past few weeks, and, as I’ve said, it is about what is best for the Welsh team playing against England, and that situation is Gethin to be captain.”
Triple Grand Slam winner Jenkins, 32, has recovered from a calf muscle injury to win his 98th cap.