Wales need to raise their level to compete with All Blacks says Wayne Pivac
Wales boss Wayne Pivac believes that New Zealand’s blistering finish to the Rugby Championship makes them a “dangerous animal” ahead of their northern hemisphere tour.
The All Blacks will arrive on European soil next month after dropping to fourth place in rugby union’s world rankings.
That was the direct result of a home Test series defeat against Ireland, followed by losing to South Africa before Argentina stunned them 25-18 in Christchurch.
Such a sequence of results put head coach Ian Foster under huge pressure but his players rode the storm, clinching the Rugby Championship title through successive victories over Argentina (53-3) and Australia twice (39-37 and 40-14).
Wales, Scotland and England are all on the All Blacks’ November agenda, beginning against Pivac’s team in Cardiff.
And New Zealand will bring with them a 32-Test unbeaten record at Wales’ expense, with 24 of those victories being by 15 points or more.
Wales have not toppled the All Blacks since December 1953. A seven-point defeat 13 years ago was the closest they have come to halting New Zealand’s monopoly.
“We have looked at that All Blacks versus Australia game,” Pivac said.
“The pace of the game – it was a different game to what we are playing at the moment.
“We’ve got a hell of an adjustment period in two weeks just to play with the intensity and the speed they play at.
“They put 40 points on Australia and 50 points on Argentina. I think since the changes they have made in their back-room staff and they’ve settled on a squad, it looks a pretty exciting squad to me.
“Any team that can put 50 and 40 on those two sides are probably going to be a dangerous animal.”
After a poor Guinness Six Nations campaign last season which ended with a home defeat against Italy, Wales claimed a first victory over the Springboks in South Africa just over three months ago.
But they will need to go up another gear in their quest for what would be a statement success less than a year from the World Cup.
Pivac added: “I wanted to play them (New Zealand) in 2020, but Covid prevented that at a time where we were really keen.
“Last year, it was outside the (autumn Test) window so that played a factor and we had a lot missing with injuries.
“We love playing the All Blacks. It’s a fantastic game, there will be a sell-out crowd I have no doubt, and the atmosphere is going to be like it was pre-Covid with the bands and all the excitement.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I know the players are looking forward to it and it is an opportunity to create history.
“We were hell-bent on doing that in South Africa and we would love to create some history in that (New Zealand) match.”
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