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Read not taking Wales lightly

14:00 Wed Nov 21 2012
AAP
Kieran Read
Kieran Read had a solid outing against Italy.

All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read expects nothing less than a "bloody tough Test match" when the world champions face struggling Wales in Cardiff on Sunday morning (NZT).

While New Zealand are on a run of 19 unbeaten matches over the last 15 months, Wales have suffered five defeats in a row, including demoralising reverses against Argentina and Samoa this month.

Read, who led the All Blacks for the first time in their 42-10 win over Italy in Rome last weekend, says his previous experiences against the Welsh mean he will take nothing for granted.

"Over here it has generally taken us a full 80 minutes to wear them down. I don't think we have ever had an easy game against Wales since I have been involved."

Read expects the hosts, who have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, to come out fighting as a result of their recent difficulties.

"Not too long ago they were dominating European rugby and no team goes backwards that quickly," he said.

"They are still a quality side and we respect them for that, and any team with their backs against the wall will come out fighting, so we expect a bloody tough Test match."

The back-row battle between opensides and captains Richie McCaw and Sam Warburton has been eagerly awaited although Warburton has been below his best so far this season.

However, 27-year-old Read, a contender as the form forward in the global game, remains wary of the quality of a Welsh back row which also includes strapping figures in Toby Faletau and Ryan Jones.

"The loose forwards, particularly Sam, are pretty key players across the board for them and we cannot take them lightly."