Players will only benefit from working with O'Gara – Jenkins
NEIL JENKINS expects Ronan O'Gara to evolve into a top-class rugby coach and kicking specialist now that he has called time on his playing career.
O'Gara takes up his new role with French side Racing Metro from July 1. He will work closely with the half-backs throughout the club as a kicking and tactical specialist, while developing his understanding of coaching through involvement with the club's youth set-up.
Jenkins, kicking coach with both Wales and the Lions, didn't hesitate when queried on his thoughts of his fellow tourist from the last time the Lions were in Australia in 2001.
"First of all I wouldn't have any advice for him and he certainly doesn't need any from me," chuckled Jenkins. "He'll be excellent, I'm sure. He has a wealth of experience and has been a kicker of some renown throughout his career. Players will only benefit from working with him."
Jenkins has been mentoring an ever-increasing number of Lions players over the last few weeks – "more and more players are coming to kicking practice these days" – and credits his relationship with renowned kicking coach Dave Alred as one of the defining relationships in his own career.
Jenkins scored 1,049 over the course of his 87-Test career with Wales and was a Lions tourist in 1997 when he played at full-back in all three Tests and 2001 when he was back-up to Jonny Wilkinson.
He won his fourth Lions Test cap when he came off the bench in the second Test in Australia and scored 41 Test points in all as a tourist.
In 2001 he became the first-ever player in the history of the game to break the 1,000 international points mark with a 28-point haul featuring a try, conversion, drop-goal, and penalty against France in Paris. He also toured South Africa in 2009 as specialist kicking coach.
"Ronan and I have been friends since that 2001 tour to Australia. It's great for the game that he's staying involved and it's certainly going to be a positive development for kicking in the future.
"You don't win as many caps as him and score a many points and not have things to pass on from a coaching capacity," he added.
Jenkins also spoke at length about the goal-kicking on this tour and believes that the series will be decided from the tee and, in particular, the boot of Leigh Halfpenny.
"Leigh has been outstanding since taking over with Wales two years ago. It was difficult to tell Jonathan (Sexton) that Leigh was our first-choice kicker, but we felt that after his showing in Hong Kong, where he was 100pc, that he is marginally ahead of the others," he added.
"We are really lucky to have plenty of quality in this area."