Gethin Jenkins to retire from rugby following Zebre clash

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor
31 October 2018

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Gethin Jenkins will call time on his illustrious career after this Sunday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park (2.45pm).

Gethin Jenkins

The Wales record-appearance maker has been battling back from a chronic knee injury and made two appearances for Cardiff Blues A in the Celtic Cup.

However, it has now been deemed that his right knee is not healthy enough to continue playing on a sustained basis.

He will now have the opportunity to bid farewell to Cardiff Arms Park after amassing 194 appearances over two stints at the region, in which he won the European Challenge Cup twice, plus the EDF Energy Cup and captained the region between 2014-17.

Jenkins said: “I have been working hard rehabbing over the last three months and I was confident I was going to be back playing so it’s disappointing to be retiring after Sunday’s game against Zebre.

“It’s obviously a big decision but I’ve had a good innings, it’s time to finish and I’m looking forward to one more run out on the weekend and hopefully finishing on a high.

“The pain I have been experiencing from rugby, in my daily life, simply isn’t tolerable but it’s important to me that after all the work I have put in, I run out with my team one last time and finish on my own terms.

“I have so many memories from over the years and could stay here all day listing them but the biggest thing I will miss is that camaraderie with the boys, the buzz of running out and playing, and the feeling in the changing rooms after a win.

“I’m very proud of everything I have achieved in my career, particularly captaining the Blues in the previous three seasons. None of it would have been possible without my parents and the 2005 Grand Slam always stands out as Mum and Dad were both there supporting me.

“I’m very grateful to Peter Thomas, the entire club and its brilliant supporters for everything they have given me over the years, and also Gruff Rees and John Mulvihill for making this transition from playing to coaching a smooth one.

“I am hanging up my boots with the club in a strong position and while missing last season’s European Challenge Cup was personally devastating, I was immensely proud of the culture, environment and legacy we have built.”

While Jenkins is second on the Blues’ all time appearance list, trailing only Taufa’ao Filise, with 194 matches, he has won 129 Wales caps and five for the British and Irish Lions during two of his three tours.

The loose head prop played a pivotal part in four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, and in his one season away from Cardiff Arms Park, won the Heineken Cup with Toulon.

Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas has led the tributes to Jenkins for his “enormous contribution” to rugby and is delighted he will remain part of the set up.

He said: “We have been so fortunate at Cardiff Blues to have Wales’ most capped player as one of our own and to have benefitted from the huge amount he has contributed over the last 13 years.

“He is a player of immense quality and a brilliant leader who sets the standards both on and off the field.

“While it is disappointing that his playing career is coming to an end, we are very pleased that all of his experience and expertise will be retained in the Cardiff Blues family.

“From myself personally as chairman, and everyone at Cardiff Blues, I cannot thank Gethin enough for the enormous contribution he has made not only to ourselves at Cardiff Blues but Welsh and world rugby generally.”

Jenkins will now take up a coaching role within the Cardiff Blues academy as he transitions to life after playing.

But first comes Sunday’s home clash against Zebre and head coach John Mulvihill is delighted the 37-year-old will have the opportunity to play one last game at the Arms Park.

Mulvihill added: “Gethin Jenkins is a legend of Welsh rugby, a great servant for both club and country and it is fitting that he finishes his career in front of his home crowd at Cardiff Arms Park.

“After early discussions it was always my intention to have Gethin decide when he would like to call an end to this playing career.

“He will be a massive loss to us in a playing sense but his presence and intellectual property as a coach will be a great asset to us going forward.

“After 13 seasons at Cardiff Blues, at the top of his game, this weekend marks the end of an era at the club. We all wish him and his young family much health and happiness in the future and his team mates will make sure they do anything and everything for him to go out a winner this weekend.”

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