Ellis Jenkins eyes getting back to his best after impressive Wales comeback

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Ellis Jenkins insists he is a work in progress after making an exceptional Test rugby return that augers well for Wales’ 2023 World Cup campaign.

The 28-year-old Cardiff flanker burst back on the international scene after three years with a stunning display as Wales lost 23-18 against world champions South Africa.

A major knee injury – suffered when Wales beat the Springboks in 2018 – sidelined him from all rugby for 26 months.

But he ended his comeback match as Wales captain after Jonathan Davies went off as he showcased world-class quality.

“Personally, you always try and set yourself long and short-term goals,” Jenkins said.

“(The World Cup) would definitely be there, but there is a lot of time to go before then.

“It is my first game back in a Wales shirt, and I still have a lot of stuff to work on. For two and a bit years, getting back on to the pitch was my sole focus.

“Since I’ve been back, it is trying to get back to where I was. Getting back and playing is great, but I want to get back and play at a level I think I can play at.

“I am probably not quite there yet, but I am willing to work hard to get there, and that is what I want to achieve.

“I am physically trying to get back to where I am – or as well as I can – which takes a lot of work. But I am trying to get on the right track to get there.”

One major admirer is Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi, who spoke warmly about his opposite number in the aftermath of a pulsating Test match.

“He’s obviously a great guy, isn’t he, Siya? He just said ‘it’s great to see you back’, Jenkins added.

“He sent me a jersey from the 2018 game when we played, when I got injured. Siya was with the Barbarians a couple of weeks later, and he sent his jersey to me.”

Jenkins, meanwhile, readily put team disappointment ahead of personal accomplishment after Wales pushed South Africa to the limit.

“The competitor in you, you are disappointed in the loss – particularly the manner of the loss,” he said.

“My family, my girlfriend, my best mates were all here, and you could see how much it meant to all of them. That’s a part of it people don’t see.

Wales v South Africa – Autumn Internationals – Principality Stadium
Ellis Jenkins in action for Wales against South Africa (David Davies/PA)

“It was really nice to have everyone there. It would have been nice to have finished off with a win.

“Lots of the boys have got used to rugby with no crowds, and I probably only played three or four games with no crowds. It’s not really something I became used to.

“I always say to people when they ask what it is like to play at the Principality Stadium that other than the rugby, it is the drive up Westgate Street (to the stadium) and you can see how much it means to everyone.

“You get off the bus, everyone is shouting and screaming, and it really does get you up for the game.

“Any chance you get to play for Wales is a huge honour. We are very lucky to do what we do, and that never gets forgotten.”

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