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Wales dragging their heels with key jobs.

Byline: By Delme Parfitt South Wales Echo

So here we are, little more than three weeks before the autumn Test series starts and Wales not only has no captain, but officially no back-up coaching team either.

As yet there has been no announcement that Neil Jenkins and Robin McBryde have signed their contracts as kicking guru and forwards coach respectively.

The last I knew they were still haggling over the small print of the deals and hadn't put pen to paper.

It will probably happen eventually, Gareth Jenkins has made it clear he wants them on board and the pair are naturally keen on the opportunities.

But it's not ideal is it?

Nobody is suggesting for a moment that their contract situation is anything like as serious as the one that farcically helped put paid to Mike Ruddock.

Yet you would have thought after that fiasco the WRU would have moved heaven and earth to get names in ink on dotted lines a bit more sharpish.

Then there is the captaincy saga - and a saga it has become, no question about it.

Gareth Jenkins has always made it plain he would not be naming his man until October.

But I find myself puzzled that he has not done so by now.

It's my understanding that the squad for the autumn games is due to be unveiled next Wednesday.

Yet the announcement of the skipper could, and perhaps should, have been made already.

The Wales lads have been meeting up for sessions in preparation for their upcoming four-match assignment and were together last week for three days.

I would have thought it better that they knew who was going to lead them rather than still be guessing about it over lunch.

What's more, the man himself, whoever he may be, would surely have wanted as long as possible to put his stamp on the team.

The coach has already emphasised what a huge job he himself has in that respect, and how short the time span for him to do it is between now and the World Cup.

So it's a fair bet a new captain would have preferred longer than two-and-a-half weeks to set his stall out before meeting Australia.

Of course if Jenkins' choice is Gareth Thomas this will not be such a problem.

His methods are already ingrained in the squad psyche and he would certainly not change the way he went about the job.

But Stephen Jones, pictured below, is a different matter altogether.

Yes Jones is no stranger to anyone in the camp, he's been around long enough.

He's even captained the team before. But doing so on a permanent basis is another matter.

Jones, like any of his predecessors, will need time to bed himself in as the new leader to see what he thinks works and what he thinks doesn't.

Yet the bottom line is that his behaviour in and around the team will have to change if he is the one chosen by his old Scarlets coach.

And it's not easy getting used to that and trying to be the main playmaker at the same time.

This is especially so when you are a personality like Jones.

I'm not claiming to be his bosom pal, but I do know that while you will rarely see him without a smile on his face, he is a deep thinker when it comes to his rugby and is extremely conscientious about his own form.

Gareth Jenkins will have his reasons for the timing of his decision and I am sure they will be valid. What's more, it would be foolish to criticise his methods at this stage.

I'm just saying I'm surprised the captaincy issue is still outstanding. If Jenkins doesn't know who his man should be by now, he never will.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 12, 2006
Words:636
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