Rugby Championship

Halfpenny eyeing All Blacks scalp

2017-11-25 14:52
Leigh Halfpenny (Getty)

Cape Town - Leigh Halfpenny insists Wales must embrace the challenge of taking on New Zealand when the two sides meet at Principality Stadium in Cardiff. 

Warren Gatland's men are looking for what would be a first win over the All Blacks since 1953 in front of a sold-out home crowd. 

Halfpenny begins the game against the world's best team at full-back, joining youngsters Hallam Amos and Steffan Evans in the back three. 

"This is an opportunity to go out and put the Welsh jersey on and every time you do that it's special," said the patriotic Halfpenny, one of Gatland's most experienced campaigners. 

"We know the quality of the All Blacks, how talented they are across the park, and how dangerous they are with ball in hand. 

"They have got players that can create opportunities and they are pretty clinical when they have those. From a defensive point of view we need to do our homework. 

"You can't switch off against the All Blacks. We have to go into the game with the belief and confidence we can go out on to the field and win. It is going to be a huge challenge. 

"They are an outstanding team, but we have to concentrate on what we are going to do. We have to be accurate in everything we do." 

Halfpenny is one of six British & Irish Lions who start for Wales. 

Alun Wyn Jones captains Gatland's side, while Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb begin at flyhalf and scrumhalf respectively. 

Halfpenny hopes he can repeat his 2009 victory over the All Blacks, his only previous success against what is widely regarded as the world's best outfit. 

"I was in the Barbarians team that beat New Zealand in 2009," the full-back said. 

"I was only 20 at the time and I came off the bench for the last 10 minutes. Bryan Habana ran in three tries. 

"I had that shirt framed and put up in the office space in my house. 

"It would be pretty special to beat the All Blacks in a Welsh jersey. None of us have done that. We know the challenge ahead, but we are extremely excited about it. 

"If we were to win on Saturday it would certainly be a jersey to keep." 

New Zealand are without injured captain Kieran Read and lock Sam Whitelock skippers in his place.

Whitelock's brother Luke steps in for Read at No 8, but wing Rieko Ioane has made a remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury to start. 

Wales have faced 64 years of hurt against New Zealand and the visitors are firm favourites, but Halfpenny is dreaming of bucking that trend. 

"We need to take it to New Zealand. We have to be smart and play in the right areas," said the Scarlets ace. 

"Against Australia we played some good rugby and took a lot of positives from the game. 

"We've been working on playing with two playmakers and being able to move the ball around. It helps us play a more expansive game."

Teams:


Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Hallam Amos, 13 Scot Williams, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans


Substitutes: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Jamie Roberts


New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Kane Hames


Substitutes: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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