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Pressure on Welsh players for All Blacks Test

Sportal.co.nz     16 Nov 2006    

The race is on for the prestigious All Blacks match, especially after coach Gareth Jenkins made 13 changes to the team which beat the Pacific Islands at the weekend.

The team named for the Canada match is similar to that which drew 29-29 with Australia a fortnight ago.

"When we select the side to play New Zealand it will be what I think is our best team," he told the Western Mail.

"This set of players get a second opportunity to play, knowing the boys in their positions played well last week. This is part of the process going towards that All Blacks selection," he said.

"This is an incentive selection. This team has got to challenge itself, because of the performance of last week's selection against the Pacific Islands.

"The pressure on this team to perform on Friday is as much from within the squad as from Canada.

"There could be three or four or five different selections for the New Zealand game. The pressure is on this team to impress," he said.

The situation in the squad is a reflection of developing depth in the Welsh structure, something that fullback and captain Gareth Thomas said had long been sought by the rugby public.

It was up to the Welsh to embrace the notion, he said.

"There is no split in the camp; there is no jealousy; there is no green-eyed monster.

"This is one squad of 33 players who are supporting each other, and whatever team takes the park, all the others on the bench and in the stands are supporting the team," he said.