Wales have 'belief' to shock New Zealand
SPOTLIGHT: Prop Tomas Francis has dismissed any talk of Wales facing a psychological barrier when they tackle the All Blacks in Cardiff on Saturday.
New Zealand will start as overwhelming favourites, having beaten Wales 31 times in succession since their last defeat in the fixture 68 years ago.
With the game falling outside World Rugby’s end-of-year international window, Wales coach Wayne Pivac will not be able to call on England-based players Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit because they have not been released by their clubs.
In addition a number of key personnel are absent through injuries, with British and Irish Lions stars George North, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric currently sidelined.
Asked if there was a psychological barrier against the All Blacks, Wales and Ospreys prop Francis said: “No, I don’t think so.
“People used to say that about Australia [Wales suffered 13 successive losses to the Wallabies between 2009 and 2017] and then we beat them twice in a year.
“So I don’t think it’s a banana skin or there is a hoodoo over it.
“They are a tough team, and you have to perform to the best of your ability to be in the game, and that’s all you can do.
“It doesn’t affect us what people say in the public, it is the belief we’ve got in the squad.”
Update from Cardiff with Richie Mo’unga 🤙 pic.twitter.com/gwMYPld2hA
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 25, 2021
Wales face South Africa, Fiji and Australia next month in a demanding schedule less than two years out from the next World Cup.
Francis, capped 57 times by Wales, is relishing the prospect of a fourth Test match this November.
“You get to play another Test match in a year – how can that be a negative?” he said.
“It’s another opportunity to represent your country, put on the shirt and give your all. That is what we play the game for.
“Everyone can say it is outside the window or whatever, but it’s a chance to play the All Blacks in a packed stadium.
“You wouldn’t turn that down, would you? The fact we get to play four Test matches instead of three is great.”