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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 13:44 GMT
Hansen demands regional aid
Gethin Jenkins plays tight-head prop for Wales but loose head for the Warriors
Steve Hansen is disappointed that the Welsh regional teams are ignoring the needs of the Wales international side when selecting players.

The Wales coach points to the likes of Gethin Jenkins not playing at tight head for the Celtic Warriors, despite being selected there for Tests.

"He's having to learn his trade in the Test arena," Hansen said.

"I guess it is a criticism because you've got the same problem with Jon Thomas and Dafydd Jones."

Jenkins was hugely impressive around the field, while Thomas and Jones also caught the eye, but it is the set-piece in which Wales continue to struggle.

"Jon Thomas is trying to play for Wales at number six but he's playing most of his regional rugby at lock," Hansen added.

"You've got (Wales number eight) Dafydd Jones playing most of his (regional) rugby at number six.

"So these guys are young men having to learn their trade at the highest level unfortunately.

"You can understand why Daf is playing at six because (former Wales and British Lion) Scott Quinnell is playing at eight.

It would be nice if we could bring Gethin up an easier way
Wales coach Steve Hansen

"That's where we are as a rugby nation at the moment and we've got to be a little bit patient, at the moment they're competing through guts and sheer skill away from the technical areas."

Wales field Jenkins, a natural loose-head prop, at tight head because of the dearth of quality number threes to choose from.

But the Warriors regional team have natural tight head Chris Horsman in their side and so play Jenkins at loose head.

Horsman will qualify on residency grounds for Wales next season, so all is not lost, but in the meantime Jenkins must learn his new trade the hard way.

The Wales scrummage creaked alarmingly against France two weeks ago and Jenkins again struggled against the England loose heads - Trevor Woodman and then Julian White - in the loss at Twickenham on Saturday.

"Anyone who knows about rugby will tell you that tight head is the hardest position to play," Hansen said.

"It would be nice if we could bring Gethin up an easier way but we don't have that alternative.

"People say we should change our tight head, but who would you change it with?

"If you change it you will create other problems elsewhere, and in 18 months' time - when he's learned the art of scrummaging at tight head - what kind of rugby player have you got then? World class!"

Hansen now prepares Wales for Italy's arrival in Cardiff next Saturday, his last match in charge before Mike Ruddock takes over as national coach.



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