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Ellis Jenkins believes that Cardiff still possess “stardust across our team” despite playing resources being ravaged for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup appointment with Toulouse.
The Arms Park encounter will take place against a backdrop of 42 Cardiff players and staff being in isolation at a hotel just outside London until next week.
Jenkins was among a handful of Cardiff’s Wales internationals who did not travel to South Africa, which became a UK Government red-listed country last month as fresh travel restrictions were imposed following the discovery of a new coronavirus variant.
✍️ Cardiff Rugby have registered a further seven players to their EPCR squad ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Stade Toulousain at Cardiff Arms Park (KO 1.00pm)
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) December 8, 2021
Cardiff, the Scarlets, Munster and Zebre Parma were in South Africa to play United Rugby Championship fixtures when restrictions kicked in, before eventually securing charter flights home.
Jenkins, who captained Wales to recent Autumn Nations Series victories over Fiji and Australia, will be a part of Cardiff’s challenge this weekend alongside Wales team-mates, semi-professionals and academy players.
Cardiff would face a tall order against the five-time European champions even if they were at full strength, but Jenkins is not deterred.
“Realistically, we were underdogs when this fixture was announced, if we are being honest with ourselves,” flanker Jenkins said.
“With all the situation that is going on, the pressure is off us completely.
“And sport is strange sometimes. It doesn’t always play out as it should. We have still got some stardust across our team.
“There are lots of boys who would love to be playing in this game who are in a hotel room.
“We have got to try and do them justice and do as well as we can. We have got to go out and do a good job.”
Jenkins, alongside the likes of Josh Adams, Tomos Williams and Seb Davies, will provide an experienced edge to Cardiff’s line-up.
And part of their task will be to help the academy contingent thrust into being part of Cardiff’s European opener.
Jenkins added: “We have got to make it less daunting for them, relax them as much as we can and allow them to show what they can do.
“The last thing we want to do is overwhelm them with information or responsibility that takes away from their natural rugby ability.
“We sat down with them at the start of the week and said, ‘let us do the worrying and the organising, and you just go out and play’.
“We said that no one is expecting anything spectacular, but they are here for a reason and it’s an opportunity. I have been really impressed with them.
“Some of them are a bit nervous, but we are just trying to make it about enjoying the occasion, really.”