Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Wales won't live with the All Blacks, says Christian Cullen

Warren Gatland's Wales face a daunting task to stop a new-look New Zealand in their three-Test series, according to former All Black Christian Cullen.

Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, losing their last 26 meetings, but on Saturday will attempt to become the first team to win a Test against New Zealand at Eden Park since France 22 years ago.

The world champions will have a different look about them in their first outing since retaining the World Cup at Twickenham in October, with captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter now retired while c entres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith will not feature after moving to French clubs.

But Cullen, who once scored a hat-trick against Wales at Wembley, believes the All Blacks will still have too much for Wales.

"I can't see Wales living with the tempo the All Blacks will play at, which is a lot different to what they are used to playing up north, not to mention the skill level and intensity," Cullen wrote in his column in the Herald on Sunday.

"They're going to be too quick and too clever. I watched their game against England and didn't see a lot there that will trouble the All Blacks. I think they will put 15 or 20 points on Wales.

"It's often said the All Blacks are more vulnerable in their opening Test of the year because it takes time to get the team playing in the right way. But I don't see it this year.

"There's no doubt the All Blacks will miss players such as McCaw, Nonu, Smith and Carter, but I actually think it's the fact they aren't there that they will perform right from the outset this year."

Australian World Cup winner Matt Burke also expects Wales to be seen off in a convincing manner.

He said: "This New Zealand team will wipe the floor with Wales - that's a given. And they could go on again in 2016.

"You can't replace the likes of Carter, Nonu or McCaw because they played their own style of games, but the new boys will come in and could even bring something better."

Wales head coach Gatland has stressed that he believes the gap between the two sides is not that big.

He said: "From a scoreboard position, we don't feel like there's too much disparity. We've just got to go out there, start well, play well and stay in the fight.

"We know how dangerous they are but they're like any team, if you put them under pressure there (can be) a small hint of vulnerability there."


From Belfast Telegraph