All Blacks v Wales: Five things we’ve learned

Getty Images     27 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Here are five things we learned from the Steinlager Series.

Back to his best 
After almost a year out of the All Blacks, Israel Dagg returned for the final two Tests with impressive performances in the fifteen jersey. With Ben Smith shifting to the right wing, Dagg provided an attacking spark and booming boot from the back. His return was capped off with a stunning length of the field try in the final minute of the third Test. Coach Steve Hansen said: "He's back to the player we know he can be and when he's like that he's world-class" 
Dynamic depth
Despite losing over 800 caps worth of experience through the retirement of a number of All Black greats following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks didn’t skip a beat with the introduction of five new caps in the Steinlager Series. Ardie Savea, Seta Tamanivalu, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire and Ofa Tu’ungafasi all made an impact in their first All Blacks’ series while returning players like Israel Dagg, George Moala and Ryan Crotty took their opportunities to showcase the depth of New Zealand rugby. Wales captain Sam Warburton said "They lose a little bit of experience but the talent they've got is incredible and that's why they're the best rugby nation in the world,"
Shaking off the rust
A concern for the All Blacks will be their slow starts in the opening two Test matches. In the first Test the All Blacks trailed 18-15 at halftime while the score was tied up 10-10 at halftime in the second Test. The All Blacks powered home to convincing victories in both Tests but will be wanting shake off the rust quicker next season with the Lions series kicking off in June 2017.

Smith v Webb

Perhaps the hardest fought head-to-head battle of the series was between livewire halfbacks Aaron Smith and Rhys Webb. The Wales dynamo got the best of Smith early in the first Test before Smith stamped his class with a number of visionary plays to spark the electric All Blacks outside backs. Both players are crisp distributors who can punish teams when they pick their moments to attack. This battle may act as a prelude to a repeat encounter between the two players when the Lions series kicks off next year.

Don’t miss out
The Steinlager Series was marked by sell outs in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin with over 110,000 fans enjoying the action LIVE. Make sure you get your tickets now to experience the All Blacks when the Investec Rugby Championship begins in August. GET TICKETS.