Thu, Nov 05, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Jenkins wary of All Blacks


Wales great Neil Jenkins has dismissed talk that now is the perfect time to end his country’s long losing streak against New Zealand.

The All Blacks go into Saturday’s match having not lost against Wales since 1956.

But star New Zealand outside-half Dan Carter is not guaranteed to recover from a calf injury in time for the match.

Meanwhile wing Sitiveni Sivivatu and prop Tony Woodcock are definitely ruled out after they were suspended for foul play during last Saturday’s win over Australia.

New Zealand have also come under intense scrutiny from their own fans in the rugby-obsessed country after losing three times in this season’s Tri-Nations, albeit on all occasions to world champions South Africa.

And doubts remain over the wisdom of head coach Graham Henry and his assistants switching from their previously defined specialist roles to take on the others’ areas of responsibility.

Wales have, in recent times, given themselves hope of equalling the feat of their 1953 predecessors, who beat New Zealand 13-8.

A year ago they led the All Blacks by 9-6 at half-time only to lose 29-9 while in 2004 Wales suffered the heartbreak of going down to a 26-25 defeat.

“It is a huge challenge for us,” Jenkins, assistant to Wales’ Kiwi head coach Warren Gatland, said on Tuesday.

“We played some great rugby against New Zealand last year, certainly in the first-half, but it is about 80 minutes against the All Blacks,” he said.

“Yes, they didn’t win the Tri-Nations this year and South Africa have been the best side, but New Zealand are a great team,” Jenkins added.

“Is there ever a good time to play the All Blacks? When they are under pressure, they seem to come out the other end with a bit more about them,” he said.

Wales will go into this weekend’s match with the talented James Hook in the unfamiliar position of full-back.

Hook, deputizing for the injured Lee Byrne, is better known as an outside-half or center.

But Jenkins has no doubt the 24-year-old will cope.

“He’s a great player, James — he is just a fantastic rugby player,” Jenkins said. “He just wants to play for his country, and he is happy to play anywhere in the team.”

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