Wales wary of All Blacks stamina

2016-06-10 08:50
Neil Jenkins (AFP)

Auckland - There was an air of trepidation in the Wales camp on the eve of Saturday's first Test against New Zealand, as they rejected suggestions the world champions could be rusty.

It will be the All Blacks' first outing since they beat Australia 34-17 in the World Cup final more than seven months ago.

But Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins did not buy into the "rusty All Blacks" theory, although he expected the first 65 minutes between his Six Nations runners up and the world champions would be close.

"The last few times we've played the All Blacks we've been there or thereabouts with about 15 minutes to go," Jenkins said as he put kickers Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe through a familiarisation session at Eden Park.

"But as they've shown, and that's why they're the best side in the world, and constantly show that, prove that, they go away in the last 10-15 minutes."

Wales, who last beat the All Blacks in 1953, still have nightmares about a 2014 clash at Millennium Stadium when they were on the verge of an historic victory after leading 16-15 with 10 minutes to go.

The All Blacks, though, mounted a late three-try blitz to record a 34-16 win.

"The game is never over and they keep coming and they can score tries quickly as they showed against us two years ago back in the autumn series," added Jenkins.

New captain Kieran Read did admit his side "feels a little bit different" after talismanic skipper Richie McCaw and several other senior players retired from Test rugby after the World Cup final.

Read believes the long lay-off and rebuilding combinations means the game in Auckland will be "won by inches."

"Perhaps we won't try too hard early. The nature of a Test match is it's going to be abrasive and they'll bring a lot of line speed, so if we try to make things happen it might not come off," Read said after the All Blacks' final training run on Friday.

"We'll be smart but we don't want to stifle what we've got in this team as well."

Wales assistant coach Jenkins singled out the counter-attacking skills of All Blacks fullback Ben Smith and wings Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo, saying Biggar, and Anscombe who will start off the bench, will have to be precise with their kicking game.

"The back three that they've got will cause damage to most sides, so you've got to be accurate with your kicking, accurate with your kick-chase and you've got to make your tackles - it's as simple as that," he said.

Jenkins, who was the world's leading points scorer when he retired in 2003, played the All Blacks twice in his legendary 87-Test career, with Wales losing on both occasions.

Wales have never won at Eden Park, with their two most recent matches during the 2011 World Cup when they were beaten 9-8 by France in the semi-finals and then lost the third place play-off 21-18 to Australia.

Read more on:    wales  |  neil jenkins  |  rugby

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