Gethin Jenkins says rugby was 'hard to watch' following Wales axe

Gethin Jenkins
Gethin Jenkins was Wales' most-capped player when he retired after 129 Tests.

Gethin Jenkins has admitted rugby became "hard to watch" after being left out of Warren Gatland's coaching team.

The former Wales prop won the 2021 Six Nations as Wales defence coach in a two-year spell under Wayne Pivac.

However, he was told he was not wanted by Warren Gatland when his former coach returned last year for a second spell with Wales and was replaced by ex-rugby league coach Mike Forshaw.

Jenkins is now defence coach at Cardiff, where he played previously.

For the 42-year-old, the gap between the Wales and Cardiff jobs was the longest he had spent out of the game since making his debut for Pontypridd as a teenager back in 2000.

Jenkins moved into coaching straight after retiring as - at the time - Wales' most-capped player as well as a five-time British & Irish Lions test player and European champion.

"I did find it hard to watch rugby," he said.

"When you're involved in it you're flat out, engrossed in watching as much rugby as you can because you need to stick with the times.

"I went away to learn more and spend time with my family. Given the age of my children [two and five], I was lucky to do that for six or seven months."

He was appointed appointed Cardiff defence coach in August while Stephen Jones, another to be dropped by Gatland's return, is set to join Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika.

After his hiatus, Jenkins made the "easy" decision to return to Cardiff where he spent 13 seasons as a player, including three as captain.

"It was a great opportunity to work and I've enjoyed every minute of it," he said.

"I've coached many of the boys before and played with a lot of them as well, which makes it easier, but it's still a long process to get my style across.

"I'm still learning still off some of the backs here like Willis Halaholo, Rey Lee-Lo and Josh Adams when he comes back in.

"Coaching is always changing every couple of months and the moment you lose track of that you become dated."

Wales ambitions

Only Alun Wyn Jones has since played more times for Wales than Jenkins who made 129 appearances for his country, winning four Six Nations titles including three Grand Slams.

He added a fifth title as a coach and admits he still has an eye on being involved in international rugby again.

"Wales was an opportunity that I was pleased to take at the time," said Jenkins.

"I went through 30 Tests in a high-pressured environment where you're being judged on every result."

From the high of a Six Nations triumph followed by the low of a first ever loss to Georgia in November 2022, Jenkins insists he "cherishes" every moment.

"I wouldn't take it back at all," he said.

"It was a great time to be involved with Wales with some great coaches and the best players in the country. Hopefully, I can get back to that level."