All Blacks braced for ‘kitchen sink’ from Wales in second test in Wellington
New Zealand prepared for a response from the tourists in Saturday’s second test at Westpac Stadium after winning 39-21 last week in the series opener
New Zealand expect an onslaught as Wales look to restore wounded pride and defy history in this weekend’s second Test, according All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
Hansen said it meant Wales would be fired up as they seek to end a 63-year losing streak against New Zealand at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
“They’re a good team. They’re hurting right now and that makes them dangerous... they’ll front up in a big way,” he told reporters.
Many pundits have written off Wales and expect a whitewash in the three-test series, believing their best chance was when the world champions were still rusty in the opener at Auckland.
But Hansen insisted he was not underestimating a side which led the All Blacks for 62 minutes in the first test and is coached by fellow Kiwi Warren Gatland.
“They’ve worked out that to play us they can’t just go for penalties, scrum penalties, kicks to the corner and line outs,” he said. “They’ll have a crack at us.”
Fly half Aaron Cruden succinctly summed up New Zealand’s expectations: “They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us, so we need to be prepared for that barrage.”
Hansen made only two personnel changes to his run-on side, shuffling the backline to drop struggling wing Julian Savea and recall Israel Dagg, while ditching lock Luke Romano in favour of a fit-again Sam Whitelock.
He admitted aspects of the All Blacks’ play looked “clunky” in Auckland but said the team, which is rebuilding after a string of retirements, had looked sharp in training.
Wales are missing one of their main strike weapons in first test stand-out George North, who is injured and out of the series, but Gatland was keen to emphasise the positives.
He dismissed the Chiefs’ debacle as meaningless to his test players, who he said wanted to repeat the high tempo shown in Auckland without the late slump in intensity.
“They’ve been excellent and they’re desperate to step up and play for a full 80 minutes,” he said.
“It will be another huge occasion, in a packed-out stadium in Wellington and we are determined to build on our first Test performance.”
However, centre Jamie Roberts – who along with skipper Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau is being asked to play three matches in three days – revealed how deeply hurt the players were by the Chiefs’ loss.
“The lads who wore the jersey on Tuesday let it down, I think, being part of that squad,” he said.
“It wasn’t good enough and we owe the jersey and the Welsh supporters a performance.”
Gatland has also kept changes to a minimum, relegating lock Bradley Davies to the bench for 66-test veteran Luke Charteris, and calling up rookie Rhys Patchell at fullback.
Patchell’s inclusion allows Liam Williams to switch to the right wing and replace North.
“He’s quick, he’s got a big boot on him and we believe he’ll do a job for us,” Gatland said of the 23-year-old Patchell, whose only two previous caps were earned on a tour of Japan in 2013.