Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Neil Jenkins: New Zealand 'easily the best team on the planet in any sport'

Published 01/11/2016

Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins has highlighted the brilliance of World Cup holders New Zealand
Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins has highlighted the brilliance of World Cup holders New Zealand

Neil Jenkins has rallied world rugby's leading nations to attempt what seems mission impossible - close the gap on New Zealand.

Jenkins, Wales skills coach and his country's record Test match points-scorer, believes New Zealand are currently the world's top team in any sport.

And while the All Blacks do not feature on Wales' schedule this month, Wales face the three teams recently left in their wake during a one-sided Rugby Championship that saw New Zealand crowned winners by a landslide 17 points.

The All Blacks backed up last year's World Cup triumph and their long-standing number one global ranking by claiming six successive bonus-point victories.

Wales tackle Australia in Cardiff on Saturday, followed by successive weekend appointments with Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

The All Blacks claimed a 3-0 Test series triumph against Wales in June, and Jenkins said: "I thought we played pretty well in the first and second Tests against New Zealand and had opportunities in both games, to a point.

"But it is just how good they are.

"They are ridiculous at this moment in time - easily the best team on the planet in any sport. Whenever they play a Test match, they seem to get the job done.

"My view is that's what the rest of us have to get to and try to overtake. They are incredibly good, and the standard for today's game.

"For Australia, South Africa, ourselves, France, Ireland, England, Scotland and the rest of the sides, it's a gap we have to close.

"We have to do a job against teams we are playing this autumn.

"It's a tough game on Saturday, but we are at home and we have a pretty good record at home."

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley is due to name his team for the Wallabies clash on Thursday.

Skipper Sam Warburton, who looks set to begin his comeback from injury for Cardiff Blues against Treviso in Italy later this week, is an absentee, together with lock Alun Wyn Jones, who has withdrawn following the death of his father.

Prop Gethin Jenkins is favourite to captain Wales, with full-back Liam Williams the biggest injury concern after he was hurt during Scarlets' European Champions Cup defeat at Saracens 10 days ago.

Leigh Halfpenny, pencilled in for a wing slot, is expected to start at full-back if Williams does not recover in time, with Hallam Amos or Alex Cuthbert then being called into the starting XV.

The only other debate appears to be which back-row composition Howley goes for, given that Warburton and number eight Taulupe Faletau are both injured, but a unit of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Gloucester's in-form Ross Moriarty would be no surprise.

"Liam has been training with us and with the medics," Jenkins added.

"He has been involved with the team, so we are hoping he comes through. He's been exceptional this year for the Scarlets, as he has been with us over a number of years.

"Liam is an option at full-back or wing. He is an outstanding player, whether that be at wing or full-back.

"With the way the game has gone recently, the back-three players are interchangeable.

"A lot of teams play two full-backs. That's the nature of the modern game when you have players who are comfortable on the wing or at full-back."

Press Association

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph