Less than 12 hours to go, then, until Wales take on the All Blacks in the second test match of their three-test tour. I have to say, there seems to be little in the way of optimism from the press and the public alike in Wales right now, especially on the back of Tuesday’s hiding against the Chiefs.
There are a couple of reasons to be cheerful though.
A few standout performers from last week’s first test in Auckland will be looking to crank it up another notch this Saturday – Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Webb and Liam Williams will certainly hope to continue in similar form. Dan Biggar was clearly targeted last week, meaning we need to see more variety from him to keep the All Black’s guessing.
Wales are a very fit team, but looked out on their feet after 65 minutes in Auckland. We also lost our shape, and our plays looked so disjointed, following the introductions off the bench. So, this week, I hope to see intensity levels remain for the full 80 minutes, and a smoother transition when replacements are needed. The All Blacks make it look so easy – they really do work like a machine.
Steve Hansen has been oddly complimentary of Wales’ efforts this week, and believes we will be more dangerous on the back of the disastrous mid-week mauling. I think even New Zealanders are fed up of Wales’ valiant losing performances. I hope we can gain an edge, a mental toughness, from the first two games. Otherwise, we will be staring down the barrel of a 3-0 whitewash.
There’s no denying Wales have a mountain to climb, but, if they build on the foundations of last week and play with confidence and flair, I still believe we can do it! Come on Wales!