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All Blacks: Wales remain positive despite 68-year-old hoodoo against rivals

Even the most optimistic Welsh fan will be looking through their fingers on Saturday.

It has been so long since their last win against the All Blacks that anyone present with a memory of 1953 will have been first in line for their Covid booster jab.

Only one player survives that 13-8 win, mainstay Courtenay Meredith, who turned 95 in September. So Wales is less in a rut, more in a cannon, against New Zealand.

Odds are against exhausted Wales in Saturday's Test vs New Zealand in Cardiff

Odds are against exhausted Wales in Saturday’s Test vs New Zealand in Cardiff

It is understandable then that, as a nation, Wales has largely given up the hope of being able to defeat them one day. Also, there is a concern that the ground is not full.

Despite being billed as a sold out sale, it appears that Welsh clubs have over-allocated tickets and desperately flogged as many as possible on Friday night, some for a loss, on social media.

A club is believed to have had 50 sets of £ 75 tickets left, and if they were not changed, the Principality Stadium would be left with not just empty rows, but clubs with a five-figure bill to pay for the Welsh Rugby Union.

Nervousness over the pandemic situation, some unease about the Covid pass needed to get in and the price (seats over £ 95) for a test where the odds are against Wales has seen a perfect storm.

In the midst of all this, the Welsh team tries to remain optimistic.

“Everybody looks at history, because he can pull statistics like 68 years of defeat,” said head coach Wayne Pivac.

“History says it all: they are a very good rugby nation and they have proven it time and time again.

“What we do internally is watch 15 rugby players with a referee in the middle.”

Captain Alun Wyn Jones added: “The hoodoo has to go away at some point, what I said is that we need a performance.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has told his players to focus solely on Saturday's game.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has told his players to focus solely on Saturday's game.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has told his players to focus solely on Saturday’s game.

Johnny Williams, the 25-year-old center who won his fourth international game, continued the half-glass theme.

“We could be the first group to go and beat them for almost 70 years,” said the midfielder who used to attend these games with his father.

‘What that would do for the nation would be enormous. It is a huge carrot. It would be amazing to do that.

“That story, of course, means something and we have to fix that.”

Much of this party has an image problem.

New Zealand will receive a £ 2 million fee for a match played outside the international window.

New Zealand will receive a £ 2 million fee for a match played outside the international window.

New Zealand will receive a £ 2 million fee for a match played outside the international window.

Arranged to raise £ 10 million for the WRU and deliver them a £ 4 million profit to invest in a struggling rugby nation after Covid, some see it as a fetid race for cash with rugby itself. well below the hierarchical order of priorities.

With playing outside the international window, Wales does not have seven English players, who join the other 13 out due to injury, or in the case of Uilisi Halaholo, Covid.

And as famous as the 118-year history of this match is, the modern reality is that the All Blacks are unlikely to be here without the £ 2 million fee they demand from their hosts to appear.

But New Zealand scoffed at criticism of this match.

There is a concern that the floor will not be full on Saturday even though it has been billed as sold out.

There is a concern that the floor will not be full on Saturday even though it has been billed as sold out.

There is a concern that the floor will not be full on Saturday even though it has been billed as sold out.

“I find it very difficult to cheer on pessimists, so I will not try to change their minds,” said coach Ian Foster.

‘It wouldn’t be a test week up here without people hitting the game or talking about the haka.

It’s outside the window, but we’ve known it for nine months. It’s a game both countries wanted and it’s been on the calendar for a long time, so everyone has had a chance to plan and prepare for it.

“When you look at teams that are missing players, some of them are injured and that’s regardless of which window they are in. The numbers have skyrocketed a bit.

‘They are the champions of the Six Nations, that is not done because they do not have depth. Clearly they have some players who have not been released by the clubs but that was always going to happen so that is not a surprise and their preparation has not been affected because they knew it.

Only one player survives from Wales' victory over the All Blacks in Cardiff in 1953

Only one player survives from Wales' victory over the All Blacks in Cardiff in 1953

Only one player survives from Wales’ victory over the All Blacks in Cardiff in 1953

“They have a tight five that’s largely intact, a lot of them Lions from the South Africa tour, so it won’t be a surprise to see them go into that part of the game as one of their key strengths.”

Fortunately there will be elements to celebrate; Wales returned to action with Gareth Anscombe’s fly half after 812 days out of the test stage, two years, three knee surgeries later, and his opposite number Beauden Barrett won his 100th match.

Within the Welsh countryside, the Pivac guys believe they have the solution to end 68 years of pain.

“We need to make sure we don’t show them too much respect,” said mainstay Wyn Jones. “We can’t stay away from them, we have to get to them.”

But from the outside it will be an occasion fraught with problems.

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