Six Nations 2013: Wales set for a captaincy surprise
WALES were monitoring the fitness of Gethin Jenkins before settling on their captain and team to face England in Saturday's "match of a generation" in Cardiff.
Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton had been considered front runners to wear the armband after Ryan Jones pulled out of the Six Nations title decider with a shoulder injury.
But the word from the Wales camp last night was that Warburton was no longer in the running and Jenkins had forced his way into the frame for the skipper's job.
He was known to have significant backing for the job, with the national team management big admirers of his leadership skills and ability to assess a game as it unfolds.
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The complicating factor was his fitness, Jenkins having missed the match against Scotland last Saturday because of a calf injury and had concerns in that area throughout his career.
Other than that, the Toulon man appeared in pole position for the job.
He has led Wales four times previously, most recently in the 24-3 win over Italy last year.
Warburton will be left to concentrate solely on his role in the back row after impressing without the captaincy against Scotland.
Alun Wyn Jones has also had his backers to step up, among them former Wales skippers Martyn Williams and Clive Rowlands.
If Jenkins is ruled out, Paul James will feature at loose-head prop, with Jones then in line to lead the side.
The other big issue for Howley is in the back row, where he has been toying with the idea of switching Warburton to No. 6 in place of Ryan Jones and using Justin Tipuric at openside flanker.
England, meantime, were also considering changes, with Owen