A Cardiff Blues flanker proudly leading his country into battle – well, Sam Warburton might have missed the Lions’ opener against the Barbarians but Ellis Jenkins will have that role in France at this summer’s Junior World Championships.
And while Jenkins’ appointment as Wales U20 captain might have lacked the fanfare of Warburton’s announcement with the Lions the two have a similar attitude to the role.
Both consider openside as their preferred position but are happy to don the No.6 shirt if needs be, while the pair lead by example on the pitch rather than by shouting in the dressing room.
But while Warburton was stamping his mark on the Cardiff Blues side in recent years, Jenkins, 20, has been plying his trade further down the ladder with Cardiff RFC.
And although Jenkins insists he has a long way to go before he can even think about following in Warburton’s footsteps, he is more than happy for the comparisons to exist.
“Me and Sam are completely different players at different levels but I won’t mind if people want to compare us,” he said.
“It is great having Sam around the club because it gives me an insight in what I could achieve if I work hard. And Sam is such a great bloke. I remember the first time I met him he introduced himself as if I hadn’t heard of him before.
“He’ a nice guy and will always stop and have a chat and give you advice.”
But while Warburton’s Wales came on strong as the 2013 Six Nations unfolded – stealing the title from England’s grasp with a final game 30-3 victory – it was the opposite for the U20s.
Jenkins was 80 minutes from leading his country to a Grand Slam only to fall to a 28-15 loss to England, surrendering the title to their Red Rose rivals in the process.
But while this was hard for Jenkins at the time, he is adamant he will use it to fuel the Wales U20s fire for the JWC as they bid to improve on last year’s third-place finish.
He said: “That Six Nations defeat was one of my worst moments in rugby up until now.
“We were so close to getting a Grand Slam which would have been fantastic but to see that and the title slip away at the very death was hard to take.
“But we’ll use it to our advantage in France because we all want to make sure we don’t feel like that ever again.
“We know it will be tough because in our group we have Samoa who can be dangerous, Scotland who had a good Six Nations and Argentina who beat the world champions [South Africa] but that can, hopefully, propel us to new heights.”
Whether Jenkins runs out for Cardiff RFC or the Blues next season following his French adventure is yet to be decided.
But for a player who played football before choosing the oval ball at 12, Jenkins is not a man to be rushed.
“I have really enjoyed playing for Cardiff RFC this season because the most important thing at this age is to get game time and I have got plenty of that with them,” he said.
“I will take a few weeks off after the Junior World Championships and then I will work hard in pre-season with the Blues and see what happens.
“But the most important thing is that I am playing regularly so I don’t mind what happens. I have time on my side.”
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