Wales v New Zealand, Millennium Stadium, November 7
Halfpenny not afraid of All Blacks
November 4, 2009
Leigh Halfpenny is confident ahead of Wales' meeting with the All Blacks © Getty Images
Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny is confident that they can end their 56 year wait for a victory over the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Halfpenny starts alongside makeshift fullback James Hook at the weekend and will be getting his second shot at New Zealand after starting Wales' 29-9 loss last November. He believes that the focus in the squad is good and that they have the confidence to finally get the monkey off their backs.
"I think the time where players were in awe of them has gone. It's definitely about us and not them this year," he said. "We have moved on as a team. Before, we would be playing the All Blacks and trying to keep the score down.
"Last year, we got confidence out of it that we had them on the ropes until half-time. We didn't manage to play in the second-half then, but we have learnt from that and we are confident. From last season, we have definitely gained belief that they are not invincible.
"Every game you play you learn from, and we definitely learned from that experience. We have to have the belief now that we can go out and play for the full 80 minutes and get a result."
Halfpenny has recovered from the disappointment he suffered after being ruled out of the British & Irish Lions tour after only a single game and is slowly beginning to regain the explosive form he exhibited last season.
"At the start of this season, I probably felt I had to try and get back to where I was straight away and live up to the expectations on me," he said. "I was thinking I needed to impress, and I probably wasn't enjoying the game as I was last season. I was putting pressure on myself, and it showed in games.
"I have learned now that the past has gone, it's a new season and you have just got to take every game as it is and not try and think ahead about the big things you've got to do. "Since learning that, I've improved every game and my form is starting to come back. I am definitely more relaxed now."
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry