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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Ex-All Blacks share concerns over young forward pack

By Ned Lester
Kieran Read is one of many All Blacks labelled as "cheats" by a former Irish international. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Members of the 2011 World Cup winning All Blacks‘ side Stephen Donald, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg have all expressed their concerns for the All Blacks starting forward pack in the second Bledisloe test.

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A number of potential issues were discussed on SENZ radio, including experience, personnel and the line-out.

However, the flip side of every All Blacks coin is opportunity and there’s plenty of that going for the younger forwards this weekend, with starting spots moving forward still not “solidified” according to Read.

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Stephen Donald’s primary concern was how the set piece would function with a younger pack.

“The Australian line-out will, I think, function better,” Donald said. “It will open up more options to them.

“They will be able to get more back ball if they want it, if that’s of interest … so that becomes a lot more of an option for them.”

Australia last week showed the attacking prowess of their forwards, with Pete Samu and Rob Valentini making dangerous runs with ball in hand and the former linking with in form winger Marika Koroibete for a try down the left hand sideline.

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Prior to the first Bledisloe test, pundits were anticipating the Wallabies roaming wingers to play more of a role in the Australians’ attack, however both Koroibete and Tom Wright saw limited opportunities, something the Wallabies may be able to change with a stronger set piece.

Read had a more broad view on the selections, but emphasised a lack of in-form players.

“It’s an interesting one actually, looking back, I don’t think it looks as good as what it was last week,” Read said.

“In saying that, I think there’s opportunities for guys (because) we’re just seeing in the All Blacks’ game at the moment … no one’s really solidified their spot, except for maybe Scott Barrett who’s not playing this week.”

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One player who fans have been calling for to get more minutes is Dalton Papali’i, who will start in his preferred position of open side flanker in the absence of captain Sam Cane.

Israel Dagg was one of many singing the Aucklander’s praises during the Super Rugby season but acknowledged it’s difficult to maintain top form when you’re not on the field.

“He hasn’t had any continuity with his game time so he’s struggling to find his biggest impact,” Dagg said.

“Now he’s got that time to go out there … but our breakdown, we haven’t had anyone over the ball that’s a genuine jackler.

“That’s what we were hoping to see from Ardie if he was going to play at seven, we know how good he is over the ball.

“Dalton’s good; he’s good over the ball, but he needs to have a huge (impact).

“Akira has to have a big game too,” Dagg continued.

“After Frizell (was) injured, we are still trying to find that number six that’s going to take us forward and get the job done.

“So, this is an opportunity for Akira to really go out there and stamp his mark on this team.”

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