The Six Nations champions against the Tri-Nations winners and a repeat of last year’s World Cup final are the tasty highlights of a busy and important day of international rugby on Saturday.
The IOL reports that New Zealand travel to Cardiff seeking to complete the third leg of their grand-slam tour against Wales, while England seek some revenge on South Africa after their final defeat in Paris 13 months ago.
France play Australia in Paris, Ireland take on old rivals Argentina in Dublin, Scotland face Canada in Aberdeen and the Pacific Islanders continue their search for a first win when they play Italy in Reggio Emilia.
The games carry more importance than the usual November fare, with ranking points at stake ahead of the December 1 draw for the 2011 World Cup.
That tournament may seem distant, but four teams – Argentina, England, France and Wales – are in the mix to occupy the vital fourth place and avoid facing any of the Tri-Nations sides in the pool stage, while the fight to stay in the top eight is possibly even more important.
New Zealand never have to worry about such issues and can instead concentrate on trying to achieve their third grand slam.
Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, though they went close four years ago in a 26-25 defeat.
But even though either side of that game the All Blacks can point to another five wins with an average of more than 47 points, coach Graham Henry is playing down his chances.
“Their forwards are good ball players and they defend well,” Henry, also a former Wales coach, said. “They are a pretty complete package really and I am expecting the kitchen sink from them.”
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said: “Wales will pose the biggest challenge to us physically and, if their front five performs, they have the ability behind to run amok. The likes of Shane Williams and Lee Byrne are dangerous when given space. If you get things wrong against them, you are in for a long day.”
France aim to regain respect from the Wallabies, having sent a second-string side to Australia in the summer.Tweet