Neil Jenkins will link up with the Lions later this week as their kicking coach.
Jenkins’s boot was a crucial factor in the series triumph 12 years ago and once again he will be plotting the Boks’ downfall. Jenkins is currently involved in Wales’ tour of North America, but is expected to meet up with the squad on Thursday in preparation for the Western Province match this weekend.
Coach Ian McGeechan lauded Jenkins’s efforts in 1997 and is expecting him to have an immediate impact on the kickers. The goal-kicking exploits of Ronan O’Gara, Stephen Jones and James Hook have been impressive so far, but the visitors have shown little of their tactical kicking game.
‘If anyone knows about what is required in terms of general kicking and goal kicking in South Africa it is Neil,’ said McGeechan. ‘It was his all-round kicking game that helped the Lions to victory in the 1997 Test series out here against the then world champions.
‘We did not appoint a kicking coach initially as [backs coach] Rob Howley and [defence coach] Shaun Edwards have experience in this area and have adequately taken responsibility for looking after the kickers,’ he added. ‘However, when someone of Neil’s ability is available and on hand it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.’
Jenkins, nicknamed the Ginger Monster, has definite plans of what he wants to achieve.
‘I have clear ideas of what I would like to contribute and I know so many of the players, coaches and back up team that I will be able to get out onto the training pitch and get started as soon as I arrive,’ said Jenkins.
‘South Africa is a great rugby nation so the challenges ahead are huge but I am determined to give my all to the Lions’ cause.’
Jenkins is yet another member of the Welsh coaching staff that is being employed by the Lions.