Wales boss Warren Gatland will focus on his team's attacking strengths against New Zealand
Last Updated: 09/06/16 11:30am
Wales boss Warren Gatland insists he will not focus on a breakdown battle against a New Zealand side without Richie McCaw after making four changes to his pack for Saturday's first Test in Auckland.
Three of those changes from the team beaten by Grand Slam winners England are in the front five, while. Gatland has also been able to pick fit-again skipper Sam Warburton after a six week injury break.
The inclusion of record-breaking prop Gethin Jenkins may suggest the Wales coach is after more scavengers in his pack, but he insists he is merely looking for know-how, with Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Jonathan Davies all coming in to the Wales team.
With the All Blacks having lost household names such as McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith since retaining the World Cup at Twickenham seven months ago, Gatland wants to throw into battle as many trusted campaigners as he possibly can.
"We are expecting a really tough contest at the breakdown, but we are not targeting that area. With our loose forwards and Gethin Jenkins, who is so strong over the ball, we feel we can pose a threat," said Gatland.
"But it was more about picking experience so we can hopefully be really competitive against the world champions. We've got experience coming back into the team with Gethin, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Jonathan Davies.
"You've always got to be excited about playing the best team in the world, the back-to-back world champions, in their own back yard. It is a huge test for us, but to get the chance to test yourself against the best is exciting."
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953 and have lost 26 games successive games against them.
Gatland's men will get three chances to make history this month and their Kiwi coach wants them to be bold and brave.
"My understanding of New Zealand rugby is that this week they will concentrate on the basics. Do them accurately, not be afraid to play a bit of territory and put us under pressure to see if we make mistakes," said Gatland.
"It is making sure we match that and we are accurate ourselves. Their policy will be to try to win the first two Tests and then throw the youngsters into the third one, but we're not going to roll over and let that happen or make it easy for them.
"The challenge for is to stay in the arm-wrestle and to match them physically up front. When opportunities arise, we have to take risks and play expansive rugby.
"Often the difference between one side and the other has been a magical moment from someone, a flip-pass from Kieran Read or something else. The team that take the risks are often the ones who get across the line."The message to our players is to be bold, be smart in the way we play and don't be scared to try things. If it's a pass out of the back of the hand or round the back, then try it."