Wales seek to end long wait for a win against the world cham­pi­ons

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS -

Sam White­lock does not want to em­u­late fam­ily his­tory when he cap­tains New Zealand against Wales to­day.

The Cru­saders lock leads his coun­try for the first time, tak­ing over lead­er­ship du­ties from an in­jured Kieran Read.

The All Blacks are seek­ing a 30th suc­ces­sive vic­tory over Wales, but the last time they lost – 13-8 in 1953 – White­lock’s grand­fa­ther Ge­orge Nel­son Dalzell played for New Zealand.

“It is some­thing that Luke (White­lock’s brother and the New Zealand num­ber eight this week­end) and I are prob­a­bly aware of more than any­one else,” he ex­plained yes­ter­dat. “It would be nice not to do that (end on the los­ing team).”

De­spite be­ing with­out a num­ber of key play­ers, in­clud­ing Read, Brodie Re­tal­lick and Dane Coles, New Zealand are still firm favourites to ex­tend their win­ning se­quence at Wales’ ex­pense.

“We al­ways want to play well ev­ery week and this week is no dif­fer­ent,” White­lock said. “We are ex­cited to get out there now, and let our ac­tions do the talk­ing.

“It is a mas­sive Test, as it al­ways is. The boys are ready, we have done as much home­work as we can, and know it is all about be­ing fresh for the game.” White­lock said.

Wise words

“They were wise words, and it was good to hear him. “As cap­tain of a suc­cess­ful Llanelli team and hav­ing played on a suc­cess­ful Lions tour, it was just to share some of those ex­pe­ri­ences. Ob­vi­ously, the psy­cho­log­i­cal thing is a big thing.”

The Welsh tilt at at the dou­ble world cham­pi­ons may be helped by New Zealand not be­ing at full strength, but their as­sis­tant coach Robin McBryde is un­der no il­lu­sion about the de­gree of dif­fi­culty the will face.

“He (Read) has a big in­flu­ence on the team, and to try and re­place him is ob­vi­ously very hard,” McBryde added. “How­ever, it is the last game of an un­beaten tour, and they will have a point to prove. It will ob­vi­ously play into their hands with re­gards to feel­ing they have got their backs against the wall.”

Asked if the All Blacks’ aura might be slip­ping - Aus­tralia and the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions have beaten them this year - McBryde said: “The fact that any­one has said that is go­ing to get their back up.

“They might be with­out some in­di­vid­u­als, but that is go­ing to make them a lot more dan­ger­ous as a team, I feel.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

“It is a big game in the cal­en­dar. Ev­ery time we face them, a lot of water has gone un­der the bridge since the last time we played them. I know the Lions boys have had the ex­pe­ri­ence pretty re­cently, but as a Wales team, a lot of things have changed since the last time we faced them.

“We have pre­pared as well as we could have done, and we are con­fi­dent go­ing into the game that hope­fully, if ev­ery­thing goes our way, we can come away with a win. It is a Welsh shirt we have got on to­mor­row and we have got to go about our busi­ness and hope­fully get over the hur­dle of beat­ing the All Blacks.”

Sam White­lock: Cru­saders lock leads his coun­try for the first time to­day

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