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Neil Jenkins: No bigger test than New Zealand

Published 10/06/2016

Neil Jenkins and Wales face New Zealand on Saturday
Neil Jenkins and Wales face New Zealand on Saturday

Kicking coach Neil Jenkins has summed up the task facing Wales this weekend against New Zealand, admitting: "There is no bigger test."

Wales begin a tough three-Test series on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland, where New Zealand have a formidable record.

But while the statistics weigh heavily in favour of the All Blacks, Jenkins believes the chance to play against the reigning world champions three times this month is one the Welsh players will relish.

"The players are excited and hopefully they will put in a big performance," the former world Test points record-holder said after putting his goal-kickers through their paces.

"We know just how impressive the New Zealand record is playing at home. We've played here at Eden Park in the past, although the (World Cup) semi-final and third/fourth play-off games didn't go too well for us in 2011. Hopefully, we can turn that around, play well and come away with something.

"We've had a good week of training, but that will be put to the test tomorrow. It has been a long week and a half since we got here and it seems like a long time since the England game.

"But everyone is looking forward to playing again tomorrow. There is no bigger test than playing against New Zealand in New Zealand."

The last team to beat the All Blacks at their Auckland stronghold were France way back in 1994. They have also won their last 38 games at home stretching back to 2009.

"It is a fantastic stadium and it is somewhere I would have loved to have played at when I was involved with the Welsh team. Getting to Eden Park was always a goal of ours in 2011 and we managed to play here, but not win the games," added Jenkins.

"It should be a fantastic occasion in their first game at home since winning the World Cup."

New Zealand coach Steve Hanson has selected Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo as his wings either side of full-back Ben Smith, and Jenkins warned of the danger posed by the trio.

"With the back three the All Blacks have got they will cause damage to most sides, so our kicking game needs to be very accurate," he said.

"You have to be accurate in your kicking, in your kick-chase, in making your tackles and in your one-on-ones - it is as simple as that. They have some fantastic players who can beat people in one-on-one situations, so we have to be strong in the tackle and put some pressure on them.

"You hope the game is tight and comes down to the later stages. The last few times we have played them it has come down to the last 15 minutes.

"The game is never over for them and they keep showing why they are the best team in the world by coming and winning in the closing stages. They can score tries quickly as they showed in the last autumn series.

"It is a tough tour after a long year. This time last year we were just starting to prepare for the World Cup, but this is an opportunity to play the best in their own back yard."

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