June International Tours

Wales must watch their discipline against NZ


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Wales back-rower Jonathan Thomas has demanded that Wales keep their discipline against New Zealand in Saturday’s first Test in Dunedin.

Ireland were smashed 66-28 last weekend largely due to them losing Jamie Heaslip after 15 minutes for kneeing Richie McCaw.

Shortly after Heaslip went off Ireland were reduced to 13 men as fly-half Ronan O’Gara was sin-binned and New Zealand ran riot.

“We are all well aware discipline is crucial and definitely something we’ll be trying to keep,” Thomas told the BBC.

“Obviously the red card of Heaslip finished the game as a contest so it’s difficult to assess truly where New Zealand are at.

“But they still looked very impressive in attack with their off-loading and their backs were looking sharp so I think we’re well aware that we’re up against a very good side at the weekend.”

Wales lost to a second string South African team two weekends ago and it is expected that Newport Gwent Dragons’ Gavin Thomas will start as he is the only specialist open-side flanker on tour after Sam Warburton was ruled out with a broken jaw and veteran Cardiff Blues team-mate Martyn Williams chose to stay at home and rest.

Thomas however is confident that even with personnel missing will have what it takes to face breakaway trio McCaw, Kieran Read and newcomer Victor Vito at Carisbrook.

“Gavin has probably been the form open-side in Wales,” said Thomas.

“He’s a quality player and will relish the opportunity if he gets selected.

“I’m sure whoever is picked will give a good account of themselves because Richie McCaw is probably the world’s best open-side, so it will be a really good battle for the boys.”

“Rob McCusker has played seven for the Scarlets on a few occasions this year and I’ve played seven a couple of times in the past.

“Should it come down to it, I’m sure we’ll do our best if we have to play in that position.”

Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953 and have lost their five matches in New Zealand and conceded 50 points in the last three matches in New Zealand.

“This is a tough old place to come and play rugby,” said Captain Ryan Jones.

“It’s the toughest mountain you can climb in the game, probably the toughest place in the world to tour. But we hope we can produce something historic.

“We were hugely disappointed to miss out on winning the South Africa game – it was tough to take. But we know that the errors we made were things in our control and we can do something about them.

“There were a lot of positives on display in that game. We scored three tries and pushed the world champions right to the edge. We have a few things to work on but we have time to do that before we play the All Blacks.

“We know that if we can win one of these next two Tests then that could be the tipping point that changes the team psyche and means we start winning the close ones instead of losing them like we have been doing.

“There’s no bigger game than New Zealand in their own back yard, but we are here to take them on and we are all really looking forward to it.”

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