Wales hone in on skill set after All Blacks mauling

by AFP

Wales coach Rob Howley has admitted the team's crushing summer whitewash at the hands of the All Blacks had been a wake-up call.

New Zealand ran out comprehensive 3-0 series winners over the Welsh (39-21, 36-22, 46-6) and carried their imperious form into the Rugby Championship, which they completely dominated, wrapping up the title with two rounds to play.

"We have done things a little bit differently," acknowledged Howley when asked if Wales' approach to the autumn series of four matches had been different, with Australia first up on Saturday.

"After New Zealand, for us it was a huge learning curve for players and coaches.

"We have tried to increase our intensity and tried to man-manage our players so we are running less distances and making sure the high-speed metres are quicker and sharper," said Howley, in interim charge with Warren Gatland seconded to the British and Irish Lions.

The All Blacks have taken a cleansweep over Wales. Photo: Getty ImagesOne aspect of the game that has been targeted was basic skills in a bid to narrow the seemingly widening gap between the free-flowing New Zealanders and the rest of the rugby-playing world, the former Wales scrum-half said.

"We've certainly worked on a lot of skills in training, and we will continue to do so," he said. "New Zealand are setting the standard in world rugby at this moment in time."

Wales' stand-in captain Gethin Jenkins, a mobile loosehead prop soon to be 36, also admitted that the tour had been an eye-opener.

"One of the things we learnt from the summer and the way the game is going in general, everyone needs to be comfortable on the ball," said the veteran who will earn his 127th cap against the Wallabies.

"We have been doing a lot more skills in the week, and working on that under pressure.

"We need to have the confidence and the ability to do that work on the field on a Saturday, and not perhaps go into our shells."

The Test between the Wallabies and Wales will be screened LIVE on BeIN Sports 3 (Foxtel channel 515) from 1.00am AEDT. Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel GO (for Foxtel subscribers).