ALL Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads has refused to write off Wales ahead of their clash with New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Bookies give Warren Gatland’s 11-1 rank outsiders next to no chance, but the rugby giant does and thinks Sam Warburton and teammates will raise their game.
Wales have lost five games in a row, their autumn series starting disastrously after numbing defeats in Cardiff to Argentina 26-12 and Samoa 26-19.
New Zealand, in contrast, haven’t lost in 19 – posting 18 wins and a draw – and arrive as World Cup and runaway Rugby Championship winners.
But All Blacks icon Sir Colin, the New Zealand Rugby Union’s player of the last century, predicts it won’t all be one way traffic this weekend.
“I think Wales have got a chance – they haven’t played well against Samoa and Argentina, but they won’t play like that against the All Blacks, simply because it is the All Blacks,” he said referring to the long standing, often bitter rivalry between the two sides.
“I think they’ll play well on Saturday and you never know.
“Last year at the World Cup, Wales were the unlucky team.
“They played terribly well and people in New Zealand really admired them and thought they were a fine side.”
He added: “It is disappointing to see they have gone back from the team they were last year.
“But it won’t be the big score people think it will, it will be a lot closer than that.”
But Sir Colin, who won 55 caps for New Zealand between 1957 and 1971, warned that the All Blacks’ key men, outside half Dan Carter and captain and openside Richie McCaw, are in top form.
And, rather ominously, he believes that their side is getting better and better and haven’t hit their stride yet despite two demolition jobs on Scotland 51-22 and Italy 42-10 over the last fortnight.
“Dan Carter is one of the great players and he’s holding his form well while Richie McCaw is playing well again, whereas last year he was carrying an injury through the World Cup,” he said.
“These All Blacks are a very good side, some young players have come in and they are playing terribly well.
“If anything, they’ve upped the ante from last year. I didn’t catch the Italy game but they didn’t play well against Scotland.
“Scotland dominated the second half, we got all the points but they had all the possession.”
* Sir Colin Meads was a guest at Nantyglo Rugby Football Club this week and is in Wales on an after-dinner speaking tour which includes an Argus-sponsored event at Newport’s Rodney Parade on Friday, November 30, to commemorate the Black and Ambers’ famous victory over the 1963 All Blacks in which he played.
He is also at Abercarn RFC on Thursday, November 29.
For more details, go to www.theeventsroom.co.uk and you can book tickets on 0845 108 5690.