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June Internationals: New Zealand v Wales Series Preview
Our rugby scribe takes a look at Wales' three-match tour of New Zealand taking place this June.
Rugby fans are in for three weeks of first class Test action with the southern hemisphere's international rugby season getting underway on the 17th of June. This year’s June Internationals have thrown up some enticing encounters with England touring Australia, Wales touring New Zealand, and the Irish coming to test their luck against a new-look Springbok squad
So will the southern hemispheres’ finest send their northern counterparts home with their tails between their legs or will we witness a few upsets?
The first series we'll take a look at is the one between New Zeland and Wales. For the All Blacks, this one is all about seeing which Super Rugby performers can cut the mustard at international level while for Wales this tour is more about ensuring they are not embarrassed rather than actually winning the series.
New Zealand v Wales | Eden Park | Saturday 11 June | 09:35
New Zealand v Wales | Westpac Stadium | Saturday 18 June | 09:35
New Zealand v Wales | Forsyth Barr | Saturday 25 June | 09:35
It is a new dawn for New Zeland rugby. Talismanic forces, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw – the bane of international rugby sides for the past decade and a half – are no longer involved in the national setup but there are a whole host of youngsters who are determined to fill their iconic jerseys.
The Kiwi’s may have lost their two golden boys but head coach Steve Hansen still has a plethora of talent at his disposal.
Any side that features veterans such as Kieran Reed, Jerome Kaino, Israel Dagg, and Sam Whitelock is one to fear.
While they still have a whole host of seasoned campaigners to call upon it’s the young guns that get me most excited. Lima Sopoaga, Damian McKenzie, and Nathan Harris have been in terrific form during this year’s Super Rugby tournament and will look to demonstrate they are just as capable of producing standout performances on the international stage.
McKenzie and Harris are two of the six uncapped players selected by Hansen. The four others are Chiefs centre Seta Tamanivalu, Highlanders flankers Lima Squire and Elliot Dixon, as well as Ardie Savea – who has been one of the standout flankers in Super Rugby.
New Zealand Squad
Forwards: Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Jerome Kaino, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Luke Romano, Tom Franklin, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Owen Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris.
Backs: Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Malakai Fekitoa, Seta Tamanivalu, Charlie Ngatai, Ryan Crotty, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara.
The Welsh are also missing a plethora of stalwarts but through injury rather than retirement. Fullback Leigh Halfpenny, centre Jonathon Davies, flanker Justin Tipiric, and utility back Alex Cuthbert are all ruled out of the tour due to injury.
To make matters worse for the Dragons’, skipper Sam Warburton has yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury - although he will tour – while they lost flanker Dan Lydiate to a shoulder injury during their 27-13 defeat to England on the 29th of May.
Wales Touring Squad
Backs: Gareth Davies, Rhys Webb, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies, Tyler Morgan, Jamie Roberts, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos, Matthew Morgan, Tom James, George North, Eli Walker, Liam Williams.
Forwards: Rob Evans, Tomas Francis Paul James, Gethin Jenkins, Rhodri Jones, Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Kristian Dacey, Ken Owens, Jake Ball, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, James King, Ellis Jenkins, Ross Moriarty, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton.
Verdict: New Zealand 3-0
So, we’ve got two squads who have seen some personal changes but I reckon we’re still going to see the usual result here with New Zealand whitewashing the series. Get on the All Blacks to clear whatever handicap is thrown at them for the first Test and do the same with the remaining two.