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'You can't coach 6 ft 5 and 19 st': Jenkins on heir to 'GOAT' Faletau

By Josh Raisey
Taulupe Faletau of Wales celebrates with teammate after scoring a try during the Six Nations Rugby match between Italy and Wales at Stadio Olimpico on March 11, 2023 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images)

Cardiff flanker Ellis Jenkins has tipped his teammate, 20-year-old Mackenzie Martin, to be one of the leading long-term contenders to take the No8 jersey from Taulupe Faletau for both club and country.

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Martin made his Wales debut this year in the Guinness Six Nations, a campaign his Cardiff teammate Faletau missed as he recovered from a broken arm suffered at the World Cup and a calf injury.

With the No8 now at the age of 33, Jenkins said on the Sportin Wales podcast recently that Faletau is not getting any younger, and players need to step up to replace him, listing Martin as one of the players to do so.

“He’s a big, physical athlete,” he said.

“You don’t realise how big he is until you’re stood next to him. He played his first game and Toby Faletau presented him his jersey, and he was stood next to Toby, who is a big man, and he’s dwarfing him.

“If Toby can have some influence on Macca that would be great, because Toby, in my opinion, is the GOAT. But he’s not getting any younger and he needs boys to step in and I think Macca is definitely going to be one of the ones in the mix to do that.

“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s physical, he likes to think he’s tough. He’s impressed me this season, I’ll be honest, he’s still got some work to do in terms of learning the game and softer skills, but what is it Gats says, ‘you can’t coach six foot five and 19 stone.’ So he’s an exciting prospect.”

Jenkins also lavished praise on another Cardiff back row, Alex Mann, who similarly made his Wales debut during the Six Nations. The 15-cap Wales international said that Mann and Cameron Winnett have established themselves as the first names on the teamsheet this season at Cardiff Arms Park.

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Meanwhile, Faletau is yet to make his first appearance since injuring his arm against Georgia at the World Cup, but is nearing a return.

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