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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK

Wales salute record points scorer

Neil Jenkins broke the test points record against Samoa

Neil Jenkins became the highest points-scorer in the history of international rugby union and equalled the record number of Welsh caps - but his joy was tempered by Wales's loss to Samoa at the Millennium Stadium.

The Wales fly-half overtook Michael Lynagh's mark of 911 which he had equalled in Saturday's World Cup defeat of Japan.

"Every time he plays he'll make another record," Roger Jenkins
He also joined Ieuan Evans on a record 72 caps for Wales.

The 28-year-old remained philosophical about defeat at the hands of the Welsh nemesis Samoa which may mean Wales travel to Scotland in the World Cup play-offs.

"A defeat sometimes does you the world of good and perhaps we will fight back from this," he said.

"We are a little bit disappointed but we have to move on, if we have to go to Murrayfield it is our own fault."

[ image: Proud dad: Roger Jenkins enjoys the game in the local club]
Proud dad: Roger Jenkins enjoys the game in the local club
Jenkins has been a near ever-present for the national team since making his debut as a 19-year-old against England in 1991.

He gave the briefest of glimpses of his talent that day kicking one penalty in a 25-6 Cardiff Arms Park defeat.

But Jenkins soon established himself as one of Wales' standard bearers although he was frequently the target for criticism from people claiming he was little more than a kicker.

"The man is a Ginger legend," says brother-in-law Andrew Harry
However, with his home-town club Pontypridd, which he joined aged 15, he was named Welsh player of the year in 1994 and 1995.

Twelve months later his side lifted the Welsh Cup and they were crowned league champions a year later.

It was 1997 when Jenkins had perhaps his finest moment, keeping ice-cool under the most severe pressure as he kicked 41 points to help the British Lions to a 2-1 series victory in South Africa.

Still Wales struggled but after the arrival of Graham Henry as coach their fortunes improved.

Jenkins broke the Welsh record for the highest number of points in a match with 30 in his country's 60-21 defeat of Italy in March this year.

[ image:
"He'll bust 1,000 points and 100 caps," says The Ginger Monster
He scored 64 points, another Wales record, in last season's Five Nations Championship, including the winning last-minute conversion in his side's win against England.

Cardiff splashed out £200,000 to lure him from Pontypridd in the summer and were reported to be paying him around £125,000 a year. "Neil has been a marvellous servant for Welsh rugby - he is a total professional and a key player in our side," added Henry.

"I have coached the game for 27 years and seen a lot of committed professionals, and he is right up there with the best.

"He's a role model for the young people of this country."

[ image: In 18 months Neil Jenkins has averaged 20 points a match for Wales]
In 18 months Neil Jenkins has averaged 20 points a match for Wales
Jenkins revealed that constant talk of the record was "doing his head in".

Henry added: "Neil won't be concerned with breaking it and will probably go on and get 1,911 before he's finished."

"Neil has put in loads and loads of practice to make him the world's best goal-kicker, often training in pretty lonely surroundings, but he just gets on with it."

John Rowlands, a member of Henry's backroom staff, knows Jenkins better than most - he carries on the sand for Jenkins to tee up the ball.

"Sometimes I'll say something to Neil like `stay calm,' but he doesn't really need calming down. He just likes a face that he knows taking the sand out there to him on the pitch," said Rowlands.

"The conversation out on the pitch is usually limited, especially if the situation is tense, He doesn't want anyone to interrupt his routine."

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