All Blacks in quest to dominate

2014-11-21 10:11
Richie McCaw (AFP)

Cardiff - New Zealand will seek to stretch an impressive winning streak when they face Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The All Blacks, who will be captained for a record 100th time by iconic flank Richie McCaw in his 137th Test, last lost to the Welsh in 1953.

Of the 29 matches between the two sides, New Zealand have won 26, their two other losses to Wales coming in 1935 and 1905, racking up 882 points against 291 for the Welsh.

"There's a lot of history between the two teams," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, a former coach of Wales between 2002-4.

The game against Wales, Hansen added, was "the most important game of the year because it's the next one", expecting "our team to play very well and the Welsh to come and be very passionate and very physical".

"Just reading the newspaper clippings, they seem to think we're there for the taking.

"They obviously have a lot of self-belief and when a team's like that you expect them to play well. Saturday will tell us if we're there for the taking."

However, Hansen added: "Probably they feel like they have to say that. Sometimes we find our inner belief by talking.

"Every time we go out to play, we know we have to be at our best because the teams we're playing are getting up to play us, regardless of who they are and what their previous form is.

"We know and expect Wales to come out and chuck everything at us.

"We know we're a good side and we know that if we prepare well, genuinely and honestly, we've got a good chance of getting the job done. If not, 'c'est la vie', that's sport."

Hansen has named Beauden Barrett at fly-half in place of "rusty" Dan Carter after an experimental young side struggled to a 24-16 win over Scotland last weekend after seeing off England 24-21 seven days earlier.

Only three starters from the Scotland match were retained as the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea, Jerome Kaino and Brodie Retallick returned.

For Wales, Warren Gatland has brought back centre Jonathan Davies after a shoulder injury in a side showing nine changes from the team that struggled to see off Fiji 17-13 last weekend.

Davies, who has been out of action for three weeks, resumes his centre partnership with Jamie Roberts, in the only personnel change to the team beaten 33-28 by Australia in Cardiff a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere in the back division, Leigh Halfpenny has recovered from concussion to displace Liam Williams, while fly-half Dan Biggar (groin) and scrum-half Rhys Webb (neck) are also fit to return.

"We are expecting another clinical performance from the All Blacks," Gatland said. "We need to match their intensity and aggression.

"The players are obviously excited about the opportunity to face the number one side at a packed Millennium Stadium. We have named an experienced team and we are really looking forward to it."

Read more on:    all blacks  |  richie mccaw  |  rugby


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