Physical Wales will provide 2017's last lessons for All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     22 Nov 2017     Getty Images

The demands of a British & Irish Lions tour, the defence of the Investec Rugby Championship, a tough Bledisloe Cup series and a northern tour with a midweek game in France had all combined with injuries and unavailabilities to put different pressures on a developing side.
Assistant coach Ian Foster said the team's Monday review had concentrated on things the side had not got right from the outset of the Scotland Test.

Foster said last week had been a unique week, the first time since he had been involved that they had played a midweek game.

There was no doubt that midweek game had been good for the side with the future in mind and by also breaking their week up and doing things differently they had learned another lesson about themselves.

"What we learned is that we've still got to make sure there are some components in our week that are there, regardless of what the itinerary says," he said.

"There were large parts of that that we felt we got right," he said.

There were signs in each of their three games, against France, France A and Scotland that they were hitting their straps in each of those games, he said.

"But we probably just didn't finish any of those games off to the degree that we wanted to. Did we prepare well? I think we did. Did we prepare as well as we could? Probably not.

"The fact we were up by 12 points against Scotland with five minutes to go and then we opened the door was frustrating. But the fact we got to that point at 22-10 after a poor start was really pleasing.

"It's not a matter of pulling the whole game apart and trying to fix everything, it's a matter of just figuring out what the critical parts are that we need to sort out and clearly this week we'd quite like to start a little better and finish a bit better," he said.

Wales would be a good test for that because they had been making some changes to their game while the All Blacks expected the traditional parts of the Welsh game had always been about the collision area and that was expected to continue.

The All Blacks would be expecting a very physical game.

Foster didn't agree with claims out of the Scotland camp that New Zealand had been cynical in their play, especially defending on their own line for periods of the game and conceding penalties.

"If the comment is about highlighting a spell we were put under a lot of pressure and we got penalised a lot then we've got to learn from that, don't we? And we were put under a lot of pressure and the ref found that we infringed more than we would like to, so we certainly need to take that lesson on board. But to extrapolate those few minutes out to say cynical, I wouldn't agree with that," he said.

Foster pointed out that Scotland had also been penalised more than average so it wasn't just the All Blacks at fault.

The All Blacks needed to take the matter out of the referee's hands and to be better at what they do.

Captain Kieran Read had a reduced training session on Tuesday due to the battering he had taken against France and Scotland and was expected to be fresh to resume on Thursday. It was a management decision to rest him, Foster said.

Flanker Ardie Savea was in isolation at the team's hotel as he was suffering a mild case of mumps, in spite of having all his childhood vaccinations. He was recovering well but had kept to his room in the meantime.