- George North insisted Wales are ready to beat the odds against England on Saturday
- Dafydd Jenkins called the clash between the old rivals at Twickenham “special”
- North’s return will be a big boost for Gatland’s team after being left out of Scotland
George North and Dafydd Jenkins are at opposite ends of their Test careers, but both Wales stars are keenly aware of the importance of beating their old foes England.
The two sides will meet again at Twickenham on Saturday in the second round of the 2024 Six Nations with Warren Gatland’s rookie team eyeing what would be a shock victory.
“It’s probably one of the biggest rivalries,” said North, who will win his 119th cap for Wales and make his 50th appearance in the championship at the home of English rugby.
“England against Wales remains an important match for everyone. There is enough history behind it. We have to go and get the result. “We’re excited to get stuck in.”
Jenkins, still 21, became the second-youngest captain in Wales’ history behind Sir Gareth Edwards last weekend when his team suffered a one-point defeat to Scotland.
George North called England vs Wales one of the biggest rivalries in rugby ahead of Saturday’s clash between the two teams.
He again leads Gatland’s men against England.
“I wouldn’t say it’s like any other game because England and Wales are special,” said Jenkins, who has been in good form for Exeter this season and captained the Chiefs aged just 19.
‘There is a huge story behind the game. It is a game that we must win because of the place we occupy in the tournament. It will be the best place to win. For a Welshman there is no better place.
‘If you win there (Twickenham), you gain a lot of respect from them (England). It’s huge for us. “It was a dream to lead Wales last week, but it will be even better if we win.”
North missed the 27-26 game against Scotland last weekend due to a lack of training time following a shoulder injury. His return to England is a big boost for Wales manager Gatland.
North is one of seven changes made by Gatland from the Scotland match.
Gatland this week instilled confidence in his young team and said Twickenham “doesn’t have any concerns”. He added: “I don’t find it intimidating at all.”
Wales have lost their last seven games in the backyard of English rugby.
Dafydd Jenkins became Wales’ youngest captain in more than half a century in his first Six Nations match.
But Warren Gatland’s side suffered a narrow home defeat against Scotland last weekend.
But North, like Gatland, knows how to win there. He was part of the Wales team that tasted Six Nations glory at Twickenham in 2012.
He also helped his country beat England in the 2015 World Cup.
Surprisingly, North is only 31 years old. She has had a brilliant career and Wales hopes to have even more to give. Gatland is rebuilding with a young team and needs players like North.
“In a four-year cycle there is a lot of rugby to be played,” said the giant defender, who will join ambitious French team Provence for next season and has now found a new home at outside centre.
‘Another concentration for the World Cup is an interesting debate. I guess it will be coffee with Warren. To get to that point, I have to spend another four years.
“Obviously, I can’t promise that my body will still be fit to fight and compete, but I’m doing everything I can, day by day, week by week, to perform to the best of my ability.” .’
North isn’t going anywhere, at least not for now. He will surely have to give his best if Wales achieve another famous victory at Twickenham on Saturday.
Wales will need to break a seven-match losing streak at Twickenham if they are to claim their first win of the campaign.
‘The challenge is enormous. “We know,” he said of Wales’ final test against England.
‘We have prepared incredibly well. Daf has led from the front. We have to at least start where we finished against Scotland and move forward.
‘I was the youngest for a few years. Luckily, I’m not the oldest yet. Gareth Davies keeps me in second place, which makes me happy. My drive has never changed.
“It’s always been about the three feathers, the honor, the privilege and the respect that I have for the jersey. It’s something that keeps me focused and keeps me working every day.
‘I’m sure there are quite a few people who say it should have ended a few years ago. But that fight in me to do better in Wales has always kept me focused.”