All Blacks full-back Ben Smith is expecting a lively contest from Wales in their three-Test series which kicks off in Auckland on June 11.
Smith, who was recently appointed as the All Blacks’ new vice-captain, warned against underestimating Warren Gatland’s charges who finished second in this year’s Six Nations.
“They showed in the World Cup and the Six Nations that they’re a pretty gritty team, they’ve a hardy forward pack that is matched by some good backs that like to be direct so we can expect that from them,” he told allblacks.com.
Energised by being back in the All Blacks set-up and sorting out what they need to do for the future, Smith said he didn’t think being vice-captain changed much.
It was a case of leading by actions and putting his opinion forward when it was needed.
He feels the two-week preparation period, instead of the usual one or two midweek camps of earlier years, would benefit the team because it gave them a better chance to focus on game structures and how they wanted to play during this week.
That would then allow less clutter in the mind so they could be more focused on preparing for the Test next week.
He said it was great to see fellow Highlanders Elliot Dixon and Liam Squire come into the All Blacks environment and get their chance.
“Both Aaron [Smith] and myself have seen how hard they’ve worked over the last few years so they really deserve to be in this team, and I’m sure when they get the opportunity they’ll be pretty excited by that,” added Smith.