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