• All Blacks Visit to Wales Could Reveal Development of New ABs

    Cardiff must feel as though under siege.

    First, the Wallabies came along and softened them up, only to leave the Kiwis waiting in the wings. Wales can take comfort in the All Blacks are not having their best year and that the Irish took the ABs down in Chicago last year.

    So for the All Blackssupporters, it looks like a Welsh side that could be softer than the Principality Stadium ground.

    It goes without saying, though, that an off year for New Zealand is the year all the other internationals would like to have, but we are saying it despite.

    Other than that odd loss in Chicago, the ABs had a superb 2016, but this year seems like a bit of a retreat from last. As season two of the World Cup cycle nears the end, to some it seems like simply a case of the team taking stock and keeping an eye on the prize two years hence.

    It would not be cause for panic of any kind by any other team; the players would be conquering heroes, the coaches of unsurpassed intellect. Neither does there seem to be any sense of panic in New Zealand. A slight coming back to the pack by a side usually performinglike the Winx of rugby is no hanging matter, but still arouses concern at the scare the Scots served up last week in Murrayfield.

    Other codes provide analogies of clear dominance by a player or team followed by a slight retreat, as the focus needs time to recover from the exhilaration a run such as the ABs had last year generated.

    Just as plausible is the suggestion that Steve Hansen has been using more players this year, for purposes of development and giving the vanguard a respite at times. That will only lead to another layer of depth comprised of players that would be front liners in the northern hemisphere.

    As for the Test with the Welsh, well, the Wallabies beat them, so there should not be too much of a lather.