WALES forwards coach Robin McBryde has urged his side to use Sunday’s test match against England as a “stepping stone to play the world champions”.
Warren Gatland’s Wales fly to New Zealand on Monday for a daunting three-test tour against the All Blacks, which also includes a midweek fixture against the Waikato Chiefs.
When Wales last toured the Southern Hemisphere they have been caught cold by the sheer intensity and pace of their hosts.
This Sunday’s test match against Grand Slam winners England is being seen as a chance to blow away the cobwebs and hit the ground running down under.
“This game has been put in the diary for bigger things and I don’t mean that disrespectfully to England,” said McBryde.
“It has been put in there as a stepping stone to play the world champions on their own patch and that is the way we are treating the game.
“It is there for us to have a taste of that intensity, and what better place to go?
“I know there are a number of changes in the England team, but the nucleus of the team that won the Grand Slam is there, they are riding on the crest of a wave, as is Eddie (Jones), and that is going to filter down to the rest of the squad.
“To go there at this time, you are not going to play in a much better atmosphere to prepare you to go on to New Zealand.”
On the injury front, squad captain Sam Warburton has been ruled out of Sunday’s game as he is still recovering from a shoulder injury picked up playing for the Blues on Judgement Day.
However, influential lock Alun Wyn Jones is set to return from a foot injury.
“Alun Wyn is good, he took a full part in training this morning,” said McBryde.
“This weekend will be too early for Sam, but he has taken part in everything bar contact work.
“He is getting much stronger, feeling much better about himself and that is evident in the way he is carrying himself and contributing to the meetings.”
Watch our exclusive interview with Wales Online rugby expert Simon Thomas. We discuss the selection dilemmas facing Warren Gatland, the Welsh players who could hurt the All Blacks, and whether Gatland’s side can finally end 63 years of pain against the men in black.