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NZ still lead the world for skill: Wales

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/06/2016 Daniel Gilhooly
Alun Wyn Jones of Wales chares into Luke Romano of New Zealand during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Eden Park on June 11, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. © Getty Images Alun Wyn Jones of Wales chares into Luke Romano of New Zealand during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Eden Park on June 11, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Wales accept their skill levels remain a notch below the All Blacks.

However, they say the gap is closing and believe it's small enough that they can still sneak an upset in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.

Coach Warren Gatland says a consistent message to the regional clubs in Wales to expand their playing style is beginning to bear fruit with the national team.

He is confident Wales can play an up-tempo Southern Hemisphere style and said their expressive play in the first 60 minutes of the 39-21 loss in Auckland shows they aren't far away.

Assistant coach Neil Jenkins said the concession of three late tries showed there is still ground to make up.

He pointed to the skills in open play of the New Zealand tight forwards as standard-setting.

"They're all comfortable with ball in hand no matter what position they're playing," he said.

"That's something we can learn and get better at.

"We're trying to develop our game and play a more expansive and wider game. I think we showed that in long periods last week but it's all about the 80 minutes."

Jenkins has no concern about fatigue setting in at the end of a long season.

Captain Sam Warburton will make his third start in eight days after following the 40-7 midweek hiding from the Chiefs.

Nearly half of the starting lineup were involved in that game but Jenkins says a desire to topple the world champions will supersede any physical tiredness.

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