Pressure mounting on Jenkins

Wales boss Gareth Jenkins knows his days as the Red Dragons’ head coach are numbered, but now he has five games – including a probable quarter-final – in five weeks at the World Cup to prove he is the right man for the job.

Jenkins has served only 15 months of a contract which runs until after the 2008 Six Nations campaign, but has warned Wales’ obsession with sacking national coaches has to stop.

The former successful coach of the Scarlets has claimed the pressure from the Welsh fans’ obsession with winning, hinders a coach’s ability to really build a team and mount a genuine challenge for the World Cup or the Six Nations.

Wales has had three full-time coaches in the last four years – Steve Hansen, Mike Ruddock and Jenkins himself – while France’s Bernard Laporte and Ireland’s Eddie O’Sullivan are both heading for their second Rugby World Cup.

“We are the eighth best team in the world,” said Jenkins.

“Is it always going to be about winning? Are we always going to be judged by winning? Wales, over the last nine years, have been up and down.

“What we need is consistency. We need to realise what our goals are and how we measure them.

“If we are going to say that winning is everything, we are not going to have a national coach in the job for more than two years.

“Sacking the coach, and I am not looking after my job here, is not always the answer.

“We have to build a team. I can see this team growing in front of me and you will see them grow at this World Cup.

“It’s just a short time to prepare for a tournament of this magnitude.

“That’s such a frustration for me. A World Cup only happens every four years and you want to be at your very best for it.

“We are growing as a team. If you ask Brian Ashton, the England coach, he would say the same thing to you. He wants more time to do the job.”

Jenkins, too, has admitted for the first time that he fears he hasn’t had enough time to really make an impact with this Wales squad.

“If I had been four years coaching this team, I would feel a lot more comfortable than I do now,” said Jenkins.

“We have had a limited time with these boys, to build the game we want to play. They were reluctant to go with what we wanted to do, but they have bought into it now.

“We have to own the ball and keep it, and we cannot always be pretty. I think the players are adapting to that and understand rugby in 2007 is different to what it was a couple of years ago.”

However, while Jenkins fears a lack of time will be a factor for Wales at the tournament, he still expects to reach the knockout stages.

He knows his ability and effectiveness in the role will be judged on what he achieves.

“We expect to be a quarter-final team,” said Jenkins.

“After that, it depends who we play and how we play in the quarter-final.

“I do know we will be ready for that game, whoever we play. Arguably, the best eight teams will be in the quarter-finals and we need to be one of them.

“That’s when we can make decisions about how effective we have been in the job.”

Jenkins also reveals that, even though Wales have developed a real Jekyll and Hyde quality, they will be feared at the tournament.

“I think people will be intimidated,” said Jenkins. “If you were a coach looking at us, you would see a side not hiding and prepared to play.

“We are dangerous and will ask questions of any team.

“We play with genuine tempo and are highly-skilled.”

However when stats read 14 games played and only three matches won – alarm bells must be ringing in the Wales Rugby Union (WRU) headquarters.

But while there are still question marks over the 2005 British and Irish Lions assistant coach’s ability to do the job, nobody should doubt his passion for it.

“It’s the proudest moment for me, as a Welshman, taking Wales to this World

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