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After 26 months out of the game injured Ellis Jenkins is ready to captain Wales

By PA
Ellis Jenkins is tackled by Damian Willemse /PA

Wales boss Wayne Pivac has offered a ringing endorsement of Ellis Jenkins’ leadership credentials after appointing him captain for the Autumn Nations Series clash against Fiji.

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Cardiff flanker Jenkins burst back on to the international scene after three years with an impressive display as Wales lost 23-18 against world champions South Africa last weekend.

A major knee injury – suffered during Wales’ 2018 victory over the Springboks – sidelined him from all rugby for 26 months, and he ended his Wales return as skipper after centre Jonathan Davies went off.

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Jenkins, 28, now leads from the start on Sunday, and Pivac said: “Ellis has certainly got leadership qualities, we know that.

“He has the ability to captain a side, but the first thing you need to do to do that is be a number one starter, so the big thing for him at the moment is to keep on building on his short return to the game.

“Where we are with the lack of leadership and captaincy experience lends itself to him taking the side this week. Certainly, we don’t think it’s going to hamper his game.

“He is an experienced player, he understands the game and he makes good decisions. He is a good communicator, good with referees and asks good questions.

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“He has been, and will be again, a leading player for Wales moving forwards. It’s just time now in the saddle for him in his position back on the park.

“There is no reason why Ellis, with his skill-set, can’t have the ability to play across the back-row, in my opinion.

“The big thing is making sure players don’t lose too much speed with a serious injury like that, and that’s something Ellis is working on. I am sure he is just going to get better and better.”

Sunday also promises to be a red-letter occasion for 19-year-old Exeter prospect Christ Tshiunza.

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Tshiunza can play in the second-row or back-row and he will be among Wales’ replacements against Fiji, with a Test debut looming.

Pivac added: “He is athletic, can play six and second-row, and at 19 with that natural frame at the moment, just imagine him in two years’ time with the training and the gym.

“We want to bring him into camp, because every now and then a player like this comes along and the more time you can spend with them and further their development, the better it is for them.

“He is in a pretty good space at the moment at Exeter, and he will be learning a lot there as well.

“If you look at what is coming up with the 2023, 2027, 2031 World Cups, those boys at 19 and 20 years of age, there is no reason if they look after themselves and keep developing that they can’t be involved in three Rugby World Cups.

“Getting to a World Cup with 33 players, you have to have players who are interchangeable and can play more than one position.

“We want to have what I would describe as a hybrid – someone who can play at lock and six.”

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