The Welsh second-row has made a big impact in the Premiership

Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins

Date of birth 5 December 2002 Born Bridgend Position Lock Club Exeter Chiefs Country Wales

How did you get involved in rugby? 

All my family played rugby and my dad played to a good standard (for Neath and Swansea). I was about five when I started at Porthcawl RFC and I went through the age groups.

Who were your childhood heroes?

The likes of Paul O’Connell and Alun Wyn Jones. As I got older, Brodie Retallick was my favourite player.

What positions have you played? 

I started in the back row, then as I got taller I moved to lock and I’ve not looked back. I think I grew five inches in five weeks when I was 16!

What are your strengths? 

Definitely my engine; the amount of work I get through is something I pride myself on. Also tackling, I get through a lot of tackles.

And work-ons? 

I want to improve every aspect of my game as I’m only young. I want to focus on being confident calling the lineout and knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. I want to be a really good set-piece forward.

How did you link up with Exeter? 

I went to Hartpury and played there for two years, then Rob Baxter got in touch with my agent and there’s a really good opportunity (at Exeter) to get an education as well, so I took the chance to come down with both hands, especially with the calibre of players here.

I’m learning every day. I didn’t think it would go as well as it has personally. I think I adapted pretty well. That’s something I’m proud of and I’ll keep pushing forward, never settling.

What are your goals? 

Since I’ve been young, playing for Wales is something I’ve hoped to do, but I’m going to keep my head down, keep trying to play well and that will take care of itself hopefully. I just want to win trophies with the Chiefs at the moment and if the opportunity comes (with Wales) I’d love to take it, but you’ve got to play well first.

I want to win as many games as I can and compete with the best players in the world.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Probably my mum, she took me everywhere. My dad is a massive influence too. He coached me since I was young and has had a big impact on my rugby. Hopefully I can bring him and our family memories on the way.

RW Verdict: Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins made a big impression during his first Premiership season – and not just because he’s 6ft 6in. With Jonny Hill and Sam Skinner moving on, the Wales U20 second-row’s importance to the Chiefs is sure to grow.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World magazine’s September 2022 edition.

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