Four talking points ahead of Wales game against New Zealand
Which New Zealand team will turn up?
It is not a question that normally accompanies the All Blacks, but 2022 has been a rollercoaster year. It started with two home defeats against Ireland as Andy Farrell’s team claimed an historic 2-1 series triumph, then New Zealand opened their Rugby Championship campaign by losing comprehensively to South Africa. A home defeat followed against Argentina, pressure grew on head coach Ian Foster and New Zealand dropped to fourth in World Rugby’s official rankings, but they responded by winning an eighth Rugby Championship title. Wales, Scotland and England now await.
Welsh wing wizards
When it comes to strike-power, Wales have two of the most destructive finishers in British rugby at their disposal. Gloucester speedster Louis Rees-Zammit has delivered world-class displays in the Gallagher Premiership, while Test debutant Rio Dyer has shone for the Dragons. They have a combined age of just 43, but both players are box-office material, and if Wales can secure them enough quality possession then expect fireworks.
Referee Wayne Barnes joins 100-club
Englishman Barnes will become only the second referee in rugby union history to control 100 Test matches when he takes charge of Saturday’s clash. The 43-year-old follows Wales’ Nigel Owens, who reached the landmark two years ago. Barnes’ first international appointment arrived in 2006, having become a professional referee a year earlier. Barnes, a practising barrister who was born in the Forest of Dean, has officiated at the last four World Cup tournaments and also controlled more than 250 English Premiership games.
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