Kieran Read warns of Taulupe Faletau threat
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."