Wales must be wary in first Test despite All Blacks’ loss of leaders | Paul Rees

World champions have always managed transition better than anyone and Wales will need to be at their best at Eden Park

New Zealand may be starting life without a legion of centurions, but they still look the real McCaw. Those hoping, starting with Wales in Auckland on Saturday, that the World Cup holders will suddenly become mortal, based on the loss of leaders rather than talent, should be aware that down the years the All Blacks have managed transition better than anyone.

Richie McCaw and Tony Woodcock may have retired and Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith may have become supporters of the Euro, but it is not as if the New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has not prepared for the day when he will have craters to fill. Of the six changes to face Wales from the side that defeated Australia in last October’s World Cup final, four players were involved in the tournament and a fifth, Aaron Cruden, missed out because of injury.

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