Howley: Smith's a real threat
HE may not be one of the household names of this All Blacks side, but Wales will run out at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow well aware of the threat of scrum-half Aaron Smith.
The 24-year-old Highlanders half-back has fought off the challenge of the experienced Piri Weepu to partner Dan Carter in Cardiff tomorrow.
Smith may not have been at his best in recent Tests against the Wallabies and Italy.
But he has enjoyed a breakthrough year behind a dominant All Black pack, crossing for four tries in 11 Tests and delivering some standout displays during the Rugby Championship.
"He is a pretty special player," said Wales attack coach Rob Howley, one of the best scrum-halves Wales have produced.
"He has great support lines, he is quick getting the ball away from the tackle and has scored some great tries in the Championship.
"His speed and accuracy from the breakdown gives a pretty special ten a lot of time on the ball. That is what you need from a nine."
Meanwhile, Scarlets hooker Ken Owens admits Wales need to produce a "huge" improvement if they are to upset the New Zealand juggernaut.
"They're a great team who have shown over the years that they are capable of playing magnificent rugby," said Owens, who again starts on the bench.
"They've played really well against Scotland and Italy, so we have to improve hugely and cut out our errors if we are going to match them.
"They're not a hugely complicated team but everything they do they do at pace, with unbelievable basic skills at times.
"We've lacked that. We've had a lot of errors in our game and it's stopped us gaining momentum.
"What they do well is create momentum and punish you.
"What we have to do is stop them on the gainline and win that battle.
"Scotland put pressure on at the contact area, won a turnover and scored a try.
"We just have to up our intensity, defend solidly and stop them achieving go-forward."