daf jenkins
Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies expects new captain Dafydd Jenkins to take Test leadership in his stride.

Warren Gatland has named a youthful squad for today’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations opener against Scotland in Cardiff, and veteran Davies is seeing only positives. “There are a lot of new faces, and we’ve lost some big names like Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny,” said the Scarlets nine. “But I think it’s a nice-looking squad with some exciting talent. There’s a good mix of those younger boys lining up alongside some more experienced guys.”

Against Scotland this afternoon, Wales will field a team with very limited Guinness Men’s Six Nations experience. In fact, the last time they named a matchday squad with fewer average Six Nations appearances was the opening day of the 2005 Six Nations (which some may suggest is a good omen, given the famous Grand Slam that followed).

In terms of Six Nations debuts, eight players in today's team are set to make their first appearances in the tournament. Discounting round one of the first ever Six Nations in 2000, only twice before have Wales named as many potential debutants - against Italy in 2003 and today’s opponents in 2018, the latter also at home in Cardiff.

Davies, 33, has already witnessed first-hand the qualities of Exeter Chiefs’ Jenkins. “He’s still only 21, but the fact that he’s already been captaining one of the biggest clubs in English rugby speaks volumes about his leadership qualities,” Davies said. “I saw it myself out in France during the World Cup. Even though Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan were the captains, the way Daf was in the environment was superb. “The work he put in off the pitch stood out more than anything. He knew everyone’s roles inside out, knew everything the opposition would be doing. That side of his game is really impressive, and he plays really hard, which is important for a skipper.”

Not that Jenkins won’t have plenty of older heads to rely on should the need ever arise, said Davies. “In the pack, he’s got someone like Adam Beard who’s got 50-odd caps. Adam will be giving him any advice he needs, and then in the backs he’s got people like myself and Josh Adams. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and I’m looking forward to playing with him as my captain.

“The first game of any Championship is always massive, but to have Scotland at home is brilliant, and for it to be a sellout is going to be great.”