Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Neil Jenkins: Cruden a 'fantastic' goalkicker

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins, the third highest test points scorer in history and a man who knows a thing or two about kicking goals, insists Aaron Cruden's average goalkicking form with the Chiefs is not necessarily a comfort for his team.

Cruden, only kicking off the tee in the last few matches for the Chiefs, has been successful with only 52 per cent of his attempts this season. The other side of the equation is that he has always kicked reasonably well for the All Blacks, and former Wales and British and Irish Lions international Jenkins has a feeling that will continue at Eden Park in the first test against his nation.

Asked whether goalkicking could prove the difference between the sides, he said: "You'd hope so, wouldn't you? You'd hope the game is tight and that it comes down to the latter stages. The last few times we've played the All Blacks we've been there or thereabouts with about 15 minutes to go, but they've constantly proved that they are the best side in the world by going away in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

"The game is never over and they keep coming. They can score tries quickly, as they showed against us in the autumn series a couple of years ago. I'm sure goalkicking is going to play a big part, it does in every test, but Aaron Cruden is a fantastic goalkicker as far as I'm concerned. I know he hasn't being doing it all season, but he certainly has the last few weeks. He's been there and done it and is a class act as well, a class player."

Wales have talked about playing with flair and ambition this week but on the other hand they have also made it clear they want to keep it tight for as long as possible. On that basis, it's difficult to see them playing anything other than a forward-oriented, territory-based game in the hope that they can keep the pressure on for as long as possible and, with the All Blacks missing the experience they had in the last World Cup, hope the home side wilt.

Defence, too, will be paramount, and after enjoying warm temperatures at their North Shore base this week, the changeable weather conditions expected could play a part too.
"You've got to be accurate with your kicking, you've got to be accurate with your kick-chase, you've got to make your tackles, it's as simple as that," Jenkins said.

"They've got some fantastic players, people who can beat you one-on-one, so we have to make our tackles and be organised ... and put some pressure on them."

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