Six Nations

Gatland has discussed Jenkins' 'exit strategy'

Warren Gatland revealed the issue of Gethin Jenkins' "exit strategy" from international rugby has been discussed after the prop was left out of the Wales side to face Ireland on Sunday.

Scarlets loosehead Rob Evans was surprisingly named in the starting line-up for Wales' Six Nations opener against the defending champions in Dublin at the expense of Jenkins.

Cardiff Blues stalwart Jenkins - the record cap-holder for his country - was named among the replacements and Wales coach Gatland said there had been dialogue over the 35-year-old's future during the World Cup last year.

"We have spoken on a few occasions during the World Cup about potentially what happens to him," said Gatland.

"He knows potentially he is not going to get through to 2019 and we have spoken about how do we manage that process where we bring someone on as a replacement and his potential exit strategy as well.

"Those discussions have been really positive in terms of the way that we deal with it and making sure we are aware of respecting what he's achieved and done for Welsh rugby."

New Zealander Gatland said the appointment of Jerome Garces as referee for the clash at the Aviva Stadium influenced his decision to leave Jenkins out. 

He said: "That was part of the conscious decision in terms of that selection. He's tough at scrum time. He did penalise us a few times, but we were very happy with his control of the game.

"And I think at the moment, from the performances that we've seen recently, he and Nigel Owens are definitely the top referees in world rugby."