An area of potential improvement for the All Blacks against Wales tomorrow as they seek to put what Kieran Read today described as "an exclamation mark on the series", is their start.

It is here that they face a balancing act. They want to stretch Wales with their pace and width on what will be a hard and fast surface under the roof, but they don't want to repeat the start of last weekend in Wellington, where their play was more frantic than focused. Then the teams went to the break locked at 10-all; the week before at Eden Park, Wales had an 18-15 lead at halftime.

Credit must go to Wales for their competitiveness in the early stages of both tests, and while down two-nil in the series and no doubt looking forward to returning home after a tough series at the end of a long rugby year, they might scent another opportunity to put the All Blacks under early pressure given the 12 personnel changes Steve Hansen has made to his match-day squad.

How new boys Elliot Dixon and George Moala go, in particular, could have a bearing on how quickly the All Black machine gets up to speed. First-five Beauden Barrett will also be expected to set an early agenda. The key, skipper Read said, will be patience.


"You can't expect to go out and dominate a team right from the word go," he said. "These games are tough, the Welsh make you work for it, so it takes sometimes 45-50 minutes and other times it takes 70 minutes."

Loose forward Dixon will bring a new element with his running game and he is likely to operate slightly wider than Jerome Kaino due to his speed, but Read expects him to be similar to Kaino in terms of his physicality.

"He's fitted in really well; he's similar to JK I guess in terms of his abrasiveness. I've certainly seen that from him at the Highlanders and this week he'll bring a lot of physicality I'm sure. He'll be pretty excited to impart himself on the game."

Liam Squire, another Highlanders' loose forward, will have the opportunity to add impact off the bench, with Lima Sopoaga doing likewise should he replace Barrett.

"The guys are certainly pretty excited, those guys who have got an opportunity, a couple of local lads who are going to go out there and really rip in," Read said. "It's a nice mix, I think the boys as a team really want to deliver a great performance to put an exclamation mark on the series.

"They've been really strong and physical so we'll get the same," Read said of Wales. "They will back themselves as well, they've certainly done that so we've got to try to get on top of them a bit quicker than we perhaps have done in the last couple of games."

The All Blacks have scored five tries in each of their two tests, but when asked if he would like to see a few more at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Read said: "We're not worried about tries, we're worried about putting in a performance which will be physically demanding on the Welsh. Certainly we've shown that when we have got it right in the second half it's paid dividends."