Wales ‘deserve more respect’ says NZ rugby pundit after ‘sham fixture’ claim
Wales “deserve more respect” than to be written off as a “glorified training run” for the All Blacks, a New Zealand pundit has said after claims that the game on Saturday is a “sham fixture”.
Wales will be without many of their top stars due to injuries and the game being played outside of the usual international window.
Chris Foy of the Daily Mail had branded it “another sham fixture; an exercise in making money from a mis-match”.
“Wales won’t fold as easily as the Americans when they face the All Blacks on Saturday,” he said, “but the sad fact is that Wayne Pivac’s side — missing a raft of regulars — have no chance of winning the out-of-window Test.”
However, NZ Stuff rugby commentator Paul Cully of said that the All Blacks could be in trouble if they went into the game expecting anything other than an arm-wrestle, and defended the Welsh Rugby Union against accusations that the fixture had been arranged simply to claw back some cash lost to Covid.
“Rugby has a tendency to get a bit puritanical when it comes to the ‘M’ word – money – and the Welsh Rugby Union has come in for fierce criticism for staging this test outside their World Rugby test window, thus depriving them of their English-based players,” he said.
“Yet, the union is doing nothing more egregious than clawing back a bit of the cash they lost during Covid-19, and the ferocity of the pushback has overshadowed the fact that Wales’ work in and around the set-piece won’t be affected.”
He added that locks Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard, hooker Ken Owens and props Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis were “no mugs” and that New Zealand would face a battle up front.
“The All Blacks’ tight forwards will have their ears closed to the commentary that suggests the test against Wales is going to be a glorified training run,” he said.
“While it is true that Wales are going to be without a number of their high-profile players due to injury and unavailability, their tight five has been untouched.
“Wales coach Wayne Pivac still has access to the tight five that won them the Six Nations this year, when they were only minutes away from a victory in France that would have also given them a Grand Slam.
“Four of those players were subsequently involved in the British and Irish Lions of South Africa, where the Lions pack arguably did a better job of handling the Springboks’ big men than the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.”
Wales coach Wayne Pivac will name his team at 12.30pm today.
Gareth Anscombe, who hasn’t played for Wales since August 2019, is expected to get the start at fly-half.