Wales tour to face New Zealand the right thing - Gareth Llewellyn

New Zealand huddle round the Webb Ellis Cup
New Zealand backed up their 2011 win and are rugby union's first three-time world champions

Wales are doing the right thing by facing World Cup champions New Zealand in a three-Test tour next summer, says former lock Gareth Llewellyn.

The former Wales captain says northern hemisphere teams must strive to match the 2015, 2011 and 1987 winners.

Warren Gatland's men will be the next to face the All Blacks when the two sides meet in three Tests in June 2016.

"It's going to be very difficult, but that is the way to improve," said 92-times capped Llewellyn.

"Wales are doing the right thing by going to New Zealand and exposing themselves to that," he added.

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Since beating New Zealand for a third time in 1953, Wales have lost 26 in a row against the dominant All Blacks.

The closest they have come to ending that barring run was in a 25-26 loss in Cardiff in 2004.

New Zealand beat Australia 34-17 in memorable fashion at Twickenham on Saturday after semi-finals between the southern hemisphere's four Rugby Championship teams.

Gareth Llewellyn with Steve Hansen in 2003
Gareth Llewellyn (left) with then Wales coach Steve Hansen (middle) in 2003

They are look likely to lose captain Richie McCaw, centre Ma'a Nonu and hooker Keven Mealamu to retirement before Wales' visit, while fly-half Dan Carter is heading for Racing 92 in his Test retirement.

Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France reached the quarter-finals, while England failed to get out of Pool A in which they were beaten by the Wallabies and Wales.

Llewellyn made his debut in Wales' 34-9 defeat by New Zealand in 1989 and went on to win Test honours when current New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was in charge of Wales from 2002-2004.

"We've all got to raise our standards, as will New Zealand," said Llewellyn.

Wales v New Zealand - last six meetings
Wales 16-34 New Zealand (Cardiff, 2014)Wales 10-33 New Zealand (Cardiff, 2012)
Wales 25-37 New Zealand (Cardiff, 2010)New Zealand 29-10 Wales (Hamilton, 2010)
New Zealand 42-9 Wales (Dunedin, 2010)Wales 12-19 New Zealand (Cardiff, 2009)

"They won't settle for what they've got and they'll push on for the next World Cup and I think ultimately we have to play them more.

"We've seen the rise of Argentina and how much better they've become from being involved in the Rugby Championship and being exposed to that level of rugby."

Before the tour to New Zealand, Wales and their European rivals will clash in the 2016 Six Nations.

Pumas point way ahead

Argentina reached the last four of this year's World Cup after impressively beating Ireland 43-20 in the quarter-finals.

The Pumas have been playing regularly against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the Rugby Championship since 2012.

Former Wales flanker Martyn Williams believes their progression has been aided by regularly playing the likes of the All Blacks and says Wales should take note.

Argentina v South Africa
Argentina have learnt how to mix it with the world's best since joining the Rugby Championship in 2012

"The template for Wales is Argentina," Williams told BBC Wales' Scrum V programme.

"Two or three years ago you knew what you were going to get with Argentina: strong set-piece, good kicking game, good defence.

"All of a sudden they've had a few years in the Rugby Championship and realised they're not going to beat the top three teams just be doing that.

"So they've put width on their game, they've revolutionised how Argentina play their game.

"There's no doubt we've got the talent - all the northern hemisphere teams. Look at the last weekend of the last Six Nations, so many tries scored, it's just having the belief and the confidence to do that from the word go."

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