Cape Town - Leigh Halfpenny insists Wales must embrace the challenge of
taking on New Zealand when the two sides meet at Principality Stadium in
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
Halfpenny is one of six British & Irish Lions who start
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
"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
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
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