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Kieran Read warns of Taulupe Faletau threat

Published 10/06/2016

Kieran Read will captain New Zealand against Wales
Kieran Read will captain New Zealand against Wales

New Zealand skipper Kieran Read has identified rival number eight Taulupe Faletau as one of the key men in Wales' bid to end a 63-year wait for victory over the All Blacks.

Read will take over the mantle of All Blacks captain on a full-time basis from Richie McCaw on Saturday night at Auckland's Eden Park, in his side's first game since completing back-to-back World Cup triumphs against Australia at Twickenham seven months ago.

"The guys are ready and itching to get out there. It's been a long build-up for us, two weeks, so now we can't wait," said Read.

"It will be great, Eden Park with a sell-out crowd. We always get a great reception here, it's amazing, we love coming and playing here. We will enjoy the moment as a group but it's about us putting in a performance we're really proud of and I'm sure we'll do that for the country.

"The Welsh game has changed, definitely, and they have got better skill-sets perhaps than when I first came. Their natural game is abrasive and physical and taking you on up front, so that's what we're probably thinking will happen.

"Faletau is a great player, he's strong and will be a key man for them. He's certainly got a wealth of experience now for the Welsh and is a big ball-carrier for them - he loves to take the ball up off the back of the scrum."

The All Blacks are defending a 38-match unbeaten run in home matches and have not been beaten at Eden Park since 1994 by France, while Wales have lost the last 26 games in a row to New Zealand and have not beaten them since 1953.

"What's going to be a key for us is not to try too hard too early. The nature of Test matches is they're abrasive and Wales will bring a lot of line speed," said Read.

"If we try and make things happen, it might not come off, so we will be smart. You have to be in this game - but we don't want to stifle what we have got in our team as well.

"The whole group is a little bit different, naturally, but we know what's ahead of us. It's a Test match and it's going to be won by inches and us going out there and doing our best.

"Most of the guys have probably read a few stories about what the history is between these two teams, but we don't have to touch on it too much. We have got a few other things to worry about as a group.

"It's our first chance in 2016 to go out there and show what we have got. That's our focus."

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