Phillips: All Blacks are beatable

Wales defence coach Rowland Phillips insists New Zealand are not invincible and can be beaten when the sides meet at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday week. [more]

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Wales defence coach Rowland Phillips insists New Zealand are not invincible and can be beaten when the sides meet at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday week.

Though they are concentrating on Friday’s clash with Canada, eyes have already turned towards the All Blacks the following weekend, especially after their 40-point thrashings of both England and France.

But despite New Zealand running in seven tries against the French, Wales – unbeaten in their first two autumn encounters – remain relatively upbeat about their chances.

And defence coach Rowland Phillips insists the All Blacks might not be as invincible as their recent results suggest.

"Are New Zealand beatable? At this time of the year prior to a World Cup, everyone asks the same question and then they get to the World Cup and are beaten and it becomes headline news," said Phillips.

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"Our initial focus is Canada and that’s how this week is going to pan out. But yes, the All Blacks are beatable. Not very often, but that’s why they are where they are. They are number one.

"But you will get beaten when you are at the top of your game because there’s only one way to go."

Phillips, however, is impressed by the All Blacks’ defensive systems which allowed France just one drop-goal last Saturday.

"New Zealand’s defence was very good. Put it like this, you know it’s a good defence when you look across a defence and you think there’s about 30 players there.

"It gives you the illusion that there’s no space.

"Collectively they are good. Right across the board in that defence line, the application of the tackle is good but also the physicality they bring to it as well.

"I would think it was quite demoralising for the French because of the effect of the physicality of the defence from New Zealand.

"What’s quite clear about New Zealand is the physicality they are bringing to their game, not just in defence but attack as well.

"They are going to make you work for everything, which is where any team wants to be.

"Pace is always a dangerous animal but, with a defence structure, you can always give yourself an opportunity to cover it."

Pace is something Wales possess in abundance in a backline including Kevin Morgan and Shane Williams.

And Phillips has been impressed with the way Morgan played in the last two matches.

"I would really commend his contribution defensively, especially against Australia. It was huge. But, as a defence coach, you don’t want your full-back making the most tackles in your back division.

"There was work there that he had to do and I thought he was fantastic, but what we will be looking to do is to tighten up in front of him not to give him so much work to do."

Morgan was the only Wales squad member to start the first two autumn matches and is expected to be named in Gareth Jenkins’ line-up for the Canada match when it is announced on Tuesday.

And captain Stephen Jones looks ready to lead the side against Canada after missing the Pacific Islanders win with a knee strain picked up in the 29-29 draw with Australia.

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