There will be plenty worse places to be than the Millennium Stadium this Saturday. Wales take on New Zealand in a clash of two of the most Rugby mad nations on this planet and there will be plenty of determination from both sets of fans, players and coaching staff.
The fact that Wales haven’t beaten the All Blacks since 1953 is probably a little misleading. Fair enough, Wales haven’t emerged victorious for quite some time, but more often that not they have given New Zealand an almighty contest. There is no way that the visitors will be underestimating their hosts – that’s for sure.
Over the years Wales have had a number of near misses over this weekend’s opponents, with the most recent example occurring in 2004 – a thrilling test and one that will stick in the memory for many years to come. Despite throwing absolutely everything at New Zealand, Wales went down 25-26 after their visitors consistently scored points at the right time. Anything like this on Saturday and the neutral will be more than happy.
Speaking of this Saturday, Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that self-belief is a crucial factor in whether his side can grab a more than commendable victory. Gatland says that his players need to believe they can win and that ‘confidence is the most important thing’.
In terms of the Wales team that will look to make history against New Zealand, it is the same one that lost to South Africa a couple of weeks ago. This means that Gareth Cooper holds off pressure from Dwayne Peel – who was impressive in last weekend’s win over Canada – to keep his place at scrum half.
As for the All Blacks, they are set to name the same side that has defeated Ireland and Scotland so far this autumn.
Looking at the rugby betting, it will come as no surprise that New Zealand are the favourites to win this weekend according to Betfair’s rugby odds. Wales are 9.6 (17/2) to record their fourth ever victory over the All Blacks who are 1.12 (1/8) to make it 21 wins against the Welsh.
As Gatland says though, if Wales can go out there and genuinely believe they can win – this could be the start of another memorable contest between the two nations. If the home side can compete early on and get a half-time lead, you never know what could happen – the opening 15-20 minutes is vital. Good luck Wales.
By Thomas Rooney