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Robin McBryde backs Wales to step up to New Zealand challenge despite injuries

Published 22/06/2016

Gethin Jenkins will miss Wales' final Test against New Zealand.
Gethin Jenkins will miss Wales' final Test against New Zealand.

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde does not think the loss of two of his leading front five forwards will dent his side's chances of ending their tour of New Zealand on a high in Dunedin on Saturday.

Gethin Jenkins, who hoisted his Welsh cap record to 126 by starting in the first two tests, and Bradley Davies, the 56-time capped lock, both flew home this week after sustaining injuries in last weekend's 36-22 defeat in Wellington.

Joining them on the return flight was Cardiff Blues back row man Josh Turnbull, who aggravated a long-standing shoulder problem in the midweek defeat to the Chiefs.

Rob Evans is set to return to the loose head prop position vacated by Jenkins, while Jake Ball will take over as the second row replacement for Davies on the bench.

"We have got a fit and healthy squad, but we haven't got any room for any further injuries. We are pretty tight and the individuals who have been there or thereabouts throughout the tour are ready to step up," said McBryde.

"Gethin has been digging in, Bradley has been carrying his knee for a while and it is a similar situation with Josh with his shoulder. But now we are just excited to see how the other boys go.

"It is about building up for the last game, our last opportunity against the All Blacks. We have been exposed to them twice now and when you get that bit of familiarity it gives you greater confidence.

"We want to embrace this final test and give a good account of ourselves. It's important we finish this tour well.

"I'm sure the All Blacks will be looking to ramp it up against us. Our performance was excellent again in the first half last weekend in Wellington, but we know it is going to have to be better over the course of the whole game on Saturday."

Wales scored three tries against the world champions in Wellington in the second Test, only the third time in 111 years they had done so, and the 14-point losing margin was the best they have achieved in New Zealand.

And McBryde says the team will stick with their new high-tempo game plan that has managed to stretch Kieran Read's team on numerous occasions in the first two Tests.

"We've been pretty bold and the players have said they want to move on and evolve our game - it's good to see them embracing it. We are willing to change and to try different things," said McBryde.

"You saw that in the last game. Not everything came off, but we are trying and there has been quite a bit of evolution in our game.

"We are evolving, but not forgetting what has worked for us in the past. The fact we managed to finish strongly in the last Test was good and we now need to build in greater accuracy.

"There are certain aspects we have been disappointed with, but when you fear change too much you become paralysed. We are changing things because of what has happened in the past.

"Our target is to produce a game which will challenge them. Hopefully, we can tighten up the areas which have cost us and make this Saturday as entertaining as the first two Tests."

Wales are due to announce their team for the third Test at 7am local time on Thursday.

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