Wales seeks immortality against All Blacks
November 19, 2012
Wales captain Sam Warburton sat out the shock defeat to Samoa last Friday night © PA Photos
Wales captain Sam Warburton believes his side can become 'immortal' if they upset New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Warburton watched from the sidelines as Wales slumped to a shock 26-19 defeat to Samoa on Friday night which was their fifth straight defeat. But he is set to return to action for the latest visit of the All Blacks and remains confident that his under-fire squad can notch their first victory over the current world champions since 1953 and join their predecessors in the history books.
"The players know the team that beat the All Blacks 60 years ago are all remembered for that victory," he told the Daily Mail. "The players appreciate that if they were fortunate enough to beat the All Blacks then it would almost make them immortal. I think Wales would go crazy. It would be one of the biggest achievements in the modern game for Welsh rugby because nobody has experienced it for a long time."
Wales' defeat to Samoa saw them drop to 8th in the International Rugby Board rankings and as a result they face the very real prospect of a nightmare pool draw at the 2015 Rugby World Cup that will be confirmed next month. If they were to slip out of the top eight then they would face two of the sides above them in the early stages of the sport's next showpiece but Warbuton is not concerned.
"I guess there is no pressure on us now because nobody will expect anything next Saturday," Warburton said. "We are going to see who turns up on the day. That is sport, that is why there are underdogs, and underdogs can beat the favourites.
"If it was very predictable, nobody would watch it. There is every chance we can win next Saturday - I definitely believe that. You have to believe that in every game you go into, but whether people think that is realistic or not is up to them. But I have approached every game believing we can win it.
"If I was a fan in the stand, I would be gutted that Wales had lost their last five games, and the players are exactly the same. We want Wales to do well as much as anybody else, so the players will feel that."
Wales boss Warren Gatland will also return to the helm this week having spent the last fortnight surveying his options ahead of the British & Irish Lions' tour to Australia next year. And he and Warburton will be tasked with conjuring a return to the kind of form that saw them sweep to the Six Nations Grand Slam and push Australia throughout a three-Test series earlier this year.
"Players in the side are not going to forget the way we played back at the World Cup, in the Six Nations last season and in the summer (against Australia)," Warburton added. "That doesn't just go with a flick of the fingers. It is still the same players - it's not as if it is a new squad or we've brought new guys in.
"We have to remember the way we played not too long ago, and then do it again. We are just going through a rough patch at the moment, but I am more than confident it will come back. As long as we stay positive we can pull it out of the bag.
"Since I have been involved in the starting team, the last 18 months, this has been the toughest time, really. It's been five Tests on the bounce now we have lost - Australia (three times), Argentina and Samoa. I haven't experienced that before.
"It is unusual, and it will be a test now for the boys to see who the tough ones are. We will front-up at training on Monday determined to get it right. I am sure everybody will have the same mindset and we will all be on the same page.
"It's easy when you win, and this is a test for a lot of the players and a lot of the leaders of the squad to make sure we put things right. We are all in this together. I think the players are letting ourselves down. It is something we will all analyse together, and it's the same when you are doing well and winning games. As long as we keep our spirits high, I am sure we will come through it quite quickly."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor