Powell targets All Blacks' scalp
November 10, 2008
Powell picked up the man of the match honour at the Millennium Stadium © Getty Images
Andy Powell has urged Wales to "keep positive" following their frustrating failure against world champions South Africa.
Cardiff Blues number eight Powell produced a man-of-the-match display on his Test debut - and Wales need more of the same when they tackle New Zealand and Australia later this month. Canada are next up on Friday night, with Wales boss Warren Gatland set to name a much-changed team later today.
Welsh fans, though, are already eyeing up the All Blacks in 12 days' time, hoping Powell and company can end a 55-year wait for success at New Zealand's expense. "I really think we can beat New Zealand at home," he said. "We've got the belief in the camp, we just have to keep positive. "Test rugby is certainly a step up. There were times out there against South Africa when I was blowing a bit, but you have to dig in.
"I am gutted we lost. We lacked that finishing edge, but we are not far off from clicking."
Powell and fellow debutant, Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny, delivered high-class displays that augers well for Wales' 2011 World Cup campaign. And had the home side taken only one of several try-scoring chances - rather than rely on a Halfpenny penalty and four James Hook strikes - it could easily have been a different story. The Springboks, though, prevailed 20-15, with fly-half Ruan Pienaar converting tries by Adrian Jacobs and Jean de Villiers, in addition to kicking two penalties.
"I think we are there, we just need to do one," said Wales skipper Ryan Jones, highlighting the urgency of his team to finally floor a Tri-Nations heavyweight. "Once we've got one (victory), I think it is almost like a watershed in that it will bring that five per cent of belief and confidence to put you on a roll. Physically and skill-wise, we can compete with anyone in the world. We've shown that time and time again.
"It's just that little bit of belief, and I think it will come with that one victory. I think we are a team other teams don't like playing against. We are dangerous, and with a little more composure and taking our chances, we will go from being a good team to a great team.
"The frustrating thing was when that final whistle went, I thought we were the bigger, stronger, fitter team. I just wish we'd had an extra five minutes, and I believe we would have made it count. Andy Powell did fantastically well. He has starred all season for the Blues, and he brought a lot to the game.
"He was great to play alongside. He got us on the front foot and created opportunities for others, which is what you need. The team is maturing now, and it is littered with individuals who are on top of their form like Andy. It bodes well."
Gatland's side for Canada is likely to show upwards of 10 switches, but it does not look as though centre Gavin Henson will be involved. Henson withdrew from the Springboks clash less than 24 hours before kick-off due to an ongoing Achilles problem and he will receive further medical checks this week.
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