Wales ready for All Blacks

2014-11-20 19:30
Shaun Edwards (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Wales are hopefully heading for a rugby crescendo when they host "red-letter" world champions New Zealand on Saturday, according to the Welsh team's defence coach Shaun Edwards.

"It is always a red-letter day when the All Blacks come to town," said the Wigan and Great Britain rugby league legend.

"And also the fact they are the current world champions makes it a little more special. Whenever a team are world champions, for that period it is a special fixture when they come to your home ground.

"With it being the All Blacks, it is that bit extra special as well."

After two punishing fitness-focused weeks in camp ahead of the 33-28 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales scraped past Fiji 17-13, but Edwards said normality had returned.

"We've gone back to our standard week. We are pretty happy with our fitness levels," he said.

"They have worked very hard over the last couple of weeks, and we've eased off this week. We have gone back to our normal training sessions, where obviously rugby is a priority.

"We've had more chance to put a lot more detail in this week.

"We are quietly building to, hopefully, a crescendo on Saturday.

"Everyone is buoyant and in a good mood, and looking forward to what is the ultimate challenge."

Edwards, while stressing the need for a strong first-up defence, said victory over the All Blacks would come through ball retention.

"We have to attempt to keep the ball against them. There are a lot of tries being scored in world rugby at the moment," he said.

"If you look at the Rugby Championship games that were played in dry conditions, there were a lot of tries scored, two or three tries being conceded by most teams around the world because the attacks are so good.

"There is a real emphasis by the referees to make the tackler roll away, and that leads to more attacking play. You are able to keep the ball for longer, more sustained periods.

"Everyone is conceding points at the moment. It's there for all to see."

Rhys Webb, who has taken over from Mike Phillips at scrum-half, insists Wales have a great chance to notch up a victory over New Zealand for the first time since 1953, with the All Blacks having won 26 of the 29 matches ever played between the two sides.

"They are a world-class team, top of the rankings at the moment, but I think they are to be taken as well," said the Ospreys livewire.

"Australia nearly pipped them (in the Rugby Championship), Scotland put a real tough performance against them. They've been getting a bit flustered when people have been going at them.

"You have got to be physical with them. If we can play our game plan and not take a backward step and really get into them, I think we can put on a good show."



15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James

Substitutes: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams

New Zealand

15 Ben Smith, 14 Charles Piutau, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23-Ryan Crotty

Read more on:    all blacks  |  shaun edwards  |  rugby

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