The former Wales fly-half is now a renowned kicking coach
Who is Neil Jenkins: Ten things you should know about the Lions assistant coach
Neil Jenkins’s playing career spanned both the amateur and professional era, and after retiring he moved into coaching and is now a highly-respected kicking coach.
Here are a few facts and stats about the former Wales fly-half.
Ten things you should know about Neil Jenkins
1. Neil Jenkins was named as part of a British & Irish Lions party for the sixth time when he was announced as an assistant to Warren Gatland for the Lions 2021 tour to South Africa.
Jenkins was a player in the series win over the Springboks in 1997, played a Test in Australia in 2001 and coached on the 2009, 2013 and 2017 trips.
2. Jenkins scored 41 points in three Tests on that 1997 tour to South Africa, playing at full-back, but nearly missed the historic trip altogether after breaking his arm in the final Five Nations game against England.
“A surgeon came to see and he confirmed the original diagnosis: that I would be fortunate to be playing within four months. I had less than eight weeks to prove my fitness for South Africa,” he said.
3. Jenkins made his Test debut for Wales against England, aged 19, in 1991 in Cardiff when his opposite number was Rob Andrew.
His last Test match, of 91 for Wales and the Lions, came in 2002 against Romania at Wrexham.
In between he amassed 1,090 points. He passed 1,000 international points in 2001, the first player to achieve that feat.
4. Born on 8 July 1971 in Church Village, Jenkins was a pupil at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School in Beddau, which also boasts fellow internationals Gethin Jenkins, Michael Owen and Ellis Jenkins as former attendees.
5. Jenkins played for Pontypridd, who he joined aged 15, Cardiff and the Celtic Warriors at club level. He made 237 appearances for Pontypridd between 1990 and 2003 scoring more than 3,000 points before the ill-fated formation of the Warriors.
He started working for the WRU as a coach in 2004.
6. Jenkins was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 2000 and appointed Honorary President of Pontypridd RFC in 2019.
7. Jenkins admitted his marksmanship improved on the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa when he encountered Dave Alred, the former England kicking coach who famously worked with Jonny Wilkinson, for the first time.
“It was a real eye-opener and it helped me massively. I learnt an awful lot from him: I actually started using a tee rather than sand, which I hadn’t thought was possible for me,” said Jenkins.
8. A BBC documentary about the player was entitled Working Class Hero and his autobiography, co-written with journalist Paul Rees, is entitled Life at Number 10.
9. Jenkins famously suffered from pre-match nerves – he was seen being sick on the iconic Living With Lions documentary of the 1997 tour.
His fellow tourist Jerry Guscott later wrote of Jenkins, in his diary of the trip: “Great goalkicker, great laugh. Despite his superb discipline and confidence as a goalkicker, which did so much to win the series, there’s a funny sort of insecurity there.”
10. Probably Jenkins’s most famous kick was his conversion of Scott Gibbs’s try that won the 1999 Five Nations game against England at Wembley. Not only did it give Wales a 32-31 win but it denied England a Grand Slam and handed Scotland the title.
He once said of kicking: “I imagine putting all my problems in a black box and closing the black box and putting them behind me out of the way.”
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