A typically ruthless All Blacks display saw the home side step up a gear in their preparations for the upcoming Rugby Championship, brushing aside a tired Wales team in Dunedin.
The result sees New Zealand win the test series 3-0, and the men in red will undoubtedly be glad to fly home. All Blacks’ coach Steve Hansen suggested some of the visiting players were already on the aeroplane going into this game, given the defeatist nature of the score-line, which is the fifth-largest winning margin the Kiwis have managed over Wales.
Looking back on this tour, I’m sad to say I see very few positives from a Welsh perspective. A turning point was the disastrous mid-week loss to Waikato Chiefs, which really served to highlight the lack of strength-in-depth we have in Wales. This opens up the question of how the Regions can respond: New Zealand have a production line of top class players in virtually every position on the field, but how many truly world class players do Wales have? When Taulupe Faletau is injured, where do we turn? Who do we go to when Dan Biggar is injured? Rhys Priestland has been a bench warmer for Bath last season, and Gareth Anscombe is some way from proving himself on the international stage.
Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones have both been quiet on this tour, which I think has also stifled Wales’ ability to go forward. Granted, NZ have obviously done their homework – you don’t win back-to-back World Cups without playing smart. However, I expected more from the Ospreys duo during the test series.
I also feel there are question marks over Sam Warburton. I do fear he has been picked as Captain on reputation rather than form. Just look at Chris Robshaw: being stripped of the Captaincy has seen him put in some barnstorming performances for England against the Aussies.
It was a real shame that Wales were robbed of George North after the first test too, because he really was causing some problems for the All Blacks.
Next up for Wales, the Autumn series in November. It is absolutely vital that we lay down a marker against either Australia or South Africa in Cardiff.