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Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 07:32 UK

Jonathan Thomas wants Wales discipline for New Zealand

Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin Date: Saturday, 19 June Kick-off: 0835 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales MW & online, score updates online

Jonathan Thomas will win his 57th Wales cap if he faces New Zealand
Jonathan Thomas will win his 57th Wales cap if he faces New Zealand

Wales back-rower Jonathan Thomas insists that maintaining discipline against New Zealand in Saturday's first Test in Dunedin will be crucial.

Ireland lost 66-28 to the All Blacks after Jamie Heaslip was given the red card early for kneeing Richie McCaw.

The Irish were down to 13 men at one stage when fly-half Ronan O'Gara was sin-binned and New Zealand ran riot.

"We are all well aware discipline is crucial and definitely something we'll be trying to keep," Thomas said.

"Obviously the red card of Heaslip finished the game as a contest so it's difficult to assess truly where New Zealand are at.

"But they still looked very impressive in attack with their off-loading and their backs were looking sharp so I think we're well aware that we're up against a very good side at the weekend."

Wales arrived in New Zealand with Newport Gwent Dragons' Gavin Thomas as their only specialist open-side flanker, after Sam Warburton was ruled out with a broken jaw and veteran Cardiff Blues team-mate Martyn Williams opted to rest rather than tour.

We know that if we can win one of these next two Tests then that could be the tipping point that changes the team psyche

Wales captain Ryan Jones

Head coach Warren Gatland will name his Wales side on Thursday, with Gavin Thomas and centre Andrew Bishop - in for the injured James Hook - tipped to be two changes from the side that lost 31-34 to South Africa in Cardiff a fortnight ago.

The man known as 'JT', who is set to win his 57th cap in Dunedin, has won 56 caps, is confident that he and his back-row colleagues - captain Ryan Jones likely to complete the Wales back-row - have what it takes to face breakaway trio McCaw, Kieran Read and newcomer Victor Vito at Carisbrook.

"Gavin has probably been the form open-side in Wales," said the Ospreys star.

"He's a quality player and will relish the opportunity if he gets selected.

"I'm sure whoever is picked will give a good account of themselves because Richie McCaw is probably the world's best open-side, so it will be a really good battle for the boys."

"Rob McCusker has played seven for the Scarlets on a few occasions this year and I've played seven a couple of times in the past.

"Should it come down to it, I'm sure we'll do our best if we have to play in that position."

Skipper Jones says his side are relishing the challenge and the opportunity to become the first Wales side to beat New Zealand on this home turf.

Wales, who lost 34-31 to world champions South Africa in Cardiff on 5 June, have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and have lost their five matches in New Zealand - conceding more than 50 points in the last three Welsh trips to the land of the long white cloud.

"This is a tough old place to come and play rugby," said Jones,

"It's the toughest mountain you can climb in the game, probably the toughest place in the world to tour. But we hope we can produce something historic.


"We were hugely disappointed to miss out on winning the South Africa game - it was tough to take. But we know that the errors we made were things in our control and we can do something about them.

"There were a lot of positives on display in that game. We scored three tries and pushed the world champions right to the edge. We have a few things to work on but we have time to do that before we play the All Blacks.

"We know that if we can win one of these next two Tests then that could be the tipping point that changes the team psyche and means we start winning the close ones instead of losing them like we have been doing.

"There's no bigger game than New Zealand in their own back yard, but we are here to take them on and we are all really looking forward to it."

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see also
All Black Vito in to face Wales
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Wales call on Thomas and Bishop
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New Zealand 66-28 Ireland
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Gatland wants Welsh self-belief
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Jones eyes All Blacks arm-wrestle
14 Jun 10 |  Welsh
NZ's 'hands off' message to Wales
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Phillips determined before Tests
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Phillips backing new nine Knoyle
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Wales' NZ tour in photos
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Wales 31-34 South Africa
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Wales' rugby fixtures
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Wales rugby results archive
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All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
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Country profile: New Zealand
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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