Sam Warburton calls on Wales to end 'rough patch' against New Zealand

Sam Warburton says there is every chance that Wales will defeat New Zealand, even though they have lost their last five Tests, including Argentina and Samoa at home this month, while the All Blacks have gone 17 months and 19 matches without defeat.

And 59 years have elapsed since Wales's last victory in the fixture.

Wales have slipped to No8 in the world rankings after Friday's reverse to Samoa, and if they lose their remaining autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia, they face being among the third seeds when the pools for the 2015 World Cup are drawn next month.

"We are very disappointed at what has happened this month but the players are not going to forget about how we played in the World Cup and then in this year's Six Nations," said Warburton, one of the contenders to lead the Lions in Australia next summer and who is expected to captain Wales against the All Blacks on Saturday having been a replacement against Samoa.

"That does not just go with a flick of the fingers and it is not as if we have a new squad. We have to remember the way we played not too long ago and then do it again. It is still there. We are just going through a rough patch and I am confident it will come back."

The All Blacks have piled up almost 100 points in their victories over Scotland and Italy this month despite not fielding their strongest side, a policy their head coach, Steve Hansen, who was in charge of Wales a decade ago, has said will change in Cardiff on Saturday.

"There is no pressure on us because nobody expects anything," Warburton said. "New Zealand is a game which I always look forward to and that's why it's sold out. We will see who turns up on the day: in sport, the underdogs can beat the favourites. There's every chance we can win – I definitely believe that. We have got the side to do it and you have to go into every game expecting to win."

Wales's injury problems were compounded when three players, Dan Biggar, Richard Hibbard and Ian Evans, failed to make it for the second half against Samoa, but their coach, Warren Gatland, will be back in charge for the next two weeks having focused on the Lions in the first half of the month.

"I hope that will be a factor in helping us perform better on Saturday but it is the players who have been letting us down, not the coaches," Warburton said. "It is a team effort and we must keep our spirits high and come through this. We owe it to our supporters as well as ourselves."

The scrum-half Mike Phillips admitted it is time his team-mates stood up and were counted. "I don't want to offer excuses because we are bigger than that," he said. "We know we are going to get a lot of flak now but it's important that we show we can stand up to people. We have to be strong. We've done it in the past and we can do it again."

Powered by article was written by Paul Rees, for The Guardian on Sunday 18th November 2012 21.06 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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