Wales have tapped into the knowledge of All Blacks tamer Delme Thomas prior to Saturday’s clash against New Zealand in Cardiff.
Thomas, who won 25 Wales caps, captained Llanelli to a famous 9-3 victory over New Zealand in 1972 – a year after playing in two Tests for the British and Irish Lions during a triumphant series on All Blacks territory.
Wales, though, have to go back almost 20 years earlier for the last time they beat New Zealand, since when they have suffered 29 successive defeats in the fixture.
“We benefited from having Delme Thomas come to the hotel last night, and he spoke with us as a front-five (forwards),” Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Robin McBryde said.
“They were wise words, and it was good to hear him.
“As captain of a successful Llanelli team and having played on a successful Lions tour, it was just to share some of those experiences. Obviously, the psychological thing is a big thing.”
Wales will once again start as underdogs when they prepare for a latest tilt at the double world champions, although some feel their cause is helped by New Zealand being without performers like Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick, Dane Coles and Jerome Kaino.
And while McBryde acknowledges skipper Read’s injury absence in particular, he is under no illusion about Wales’ degree of difficulty.
“He has a big influence on the team, and to try and replace him is obviously very hard,” McBryde added. “However, it is the last game of an unbeaten tour, and they will have a point to prove.
“It will obviously play into their hands with regards to feeling they have got their backs against the wall.”
Asked if the All Blacks’ aura might be slipping – Australia and the British and Irish Lions have beaten them this year – McBryde said: “The fact that anyone has said that is going to get their back up.
“They might be without some individuals, but that is going to make them a lot more dangerous as a team, I feel.
“it is a big game in the calendar. Every time we face them, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since the last time we played them.
“I know the Lions boys have had the experience pretty recently, but as a Wales team, a lot of things have changed since the last time we faced them.
“We have prepared as well as we could have done, and we are confident going into the game that hopefully, if everything goes our way, we can come away with a win.
“It is a Welsh shirt we have got on tomorrow, collectively, and we have got to go about our business and hopefully get over the hurdle of beating the All Blacks.”
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