Wales v New Zealand, November 24
Howley: Galtand return could be key
ESPN Staff
November 24, 2012
Wales boss Warren Gatland faces the media, Vale Resort, Hensol, Wales, November 20, 2012
Warren Gatland is back in charge of Wales © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Warren Gatland | Rob Howley
Tournaments/Tours: New Zealand tour
Teams: New Zealand | Wales

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley hopes the return of Warren Gatland can inspire Wales to an historic victory over the All Blacks in Cardiff.

Howley was in charge for Wales opening two Tests of their autumn campaign against Argentina and Samoa this autumn as Gatland focused on scouting for next summer's British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.

With Gatland back for Wales' final two matches against New Zealand and Australia this autumn, Howley is happy to revert to his assistant's role following demoralising against defeats to the Pumas and Samoa.

"The boss has been back this week. It has been nice to have another pair of eyes and ears," said Howley, who will also head up this season's Six Nations title defence.

"All the players and coaches have enjoyed having Warren back. He is one of the best head coaches in world rugby, and I think any coaching team would miss a person of his calibre. We've been a really good coaching team over the last four or five years, and to have one of the best head coaches in world rugby back gives huge confidence to players and coaches.

"He is very astute, he is a very honest coach. He's been involved over the last two weeks as well. He has come in, watched training and spoken with players. Warren's greatest strength is that he is very, very optimistic, and whatever challenge is thrown in his path he believes he can win. That certainly rubs off on players and coaches."

The form guide suggests a comfortable New Zealand triumph, but Wales are capable of pushing them if they can eradicate basic mistakes and clinically execute their attacking game.

"When you are playing against the world's best side, every minute counts. It is important to dominate territory and possession early on," Howley added. "I am sure every game is about that, but when you are playing against the world's best what you don't want to give them is an early opportunity to get up on the scoreboard.

"It is absolutely vital that we start well. We've spoken many times this week about our ability to play with the ball and put New Zealand under pressure with a passing game. The one thing which you have to do in international rugby is be accurate, whether you kick the ball, pass the ball or make decisions.

"And when you play against New Zealand you also have to ask questions with the ball in hand and throw them something outside of the box - high risk, high reward."

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