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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Jenkins seals Ponty return
Neil Jenkins returns to Sardis Road
Neil Jenkins has returned to his spiritual home
Neil Jenkins revealed one of Welsh rugby's worst-kept secrets on Thursday by leaving Cardiff and returning to Pontypridd in a two-year deal.

There has been fevered speculation about the fly-half's journey back up the A470 since Lynn Howells took over as coach at the turn of the year.

Now, with Jenkins fully fit again and looking for first-team rugby, he will be running out in Pontypridd colours once more, saying the opportunity was too good to miss.

  Neil Jenkins fact-file
Born: 08/07/1972
Birthplace: Church Village
Height: 5ft 10in (1.77m)
Weight: 13st 5lb (85.7 kg)
Position: Fly-half
International record: 86 caps (1029 points - 11 tries)
Debut: 19/01/91 v England
Last match: 15/06/02 v South Africa
Lions: 3 caps - 1997 v South Africa

"I'm sure the move will not come as a surprise to some people," he told BBC Radio Wales. "But the chance to play at Pontypridd again was too good to turn down.

"I had a fantastic time at Cardiff, they are a great club and it was disappointing to leave.

"But I'm excited by the challenge at Ponty and I'm looking forward to the future.

"Everyone saw how well they played in the second half of last season.

"There's a lot of good youngsters coming through. With five forwards selected for the tour to South Africa there is talent and potential there.

"Hopefully I can add a bit of experience to the side and I'll be working closely with Ceri Sweeney. He'll be my rival for the no10 jersey, but we'll also be trying to help each other."

The 31-year-old had a year left on his contract. But Cardiff also have Iestyn Harris and Nicky Robinson vying for the fly-half position, and Jenkins wanted regular rugby.

It is understood that he will combine playing duties and a role with Pontypridd backers Buy as You View. after signing a two-year deal.

Cardiff's Iestyn Harris
Iestyn Harris is vying with Nicky Robinson for the Cardiff No10 shirt

Jenkins is hoping that regular rugby can help add to his record number of 86 Welsh caps, saying he has no intention of hanging up his intwernational boots.

"The thrill of putting on that red jersey - whatever the number - is second to none.

"Steve Hansen was good enough to take me on the South African tour, and I hope good displays for Ponty will put me in the picture again. But there are some fine fly-halves in Wales."

Jenkins' departure was the fourth among experienced players from the Arms Park during the summer.

Craig Quinnell, Jonathan Humphreys and Robert Howley have all moved to the Zurich Premiership, and coach Rudy Joubert is also heading back to South Africa.

But Jenkins doesn't think it will affect the performances of the Blue & Blacks next season.

"David Young will have the respect of the whole club. It may be his first coaching job, but his skills are very good.

"There's a lot of talent there, and Cardiff will do well - as they always do."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Pontypridd fly-half Neil Jenkins
"I'm glad to be back"
Pontypridd boss Lynn Howells
"This is a huge signing"

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