Wales will beat All Blacks some time ... but not today
IT’S easy to be reminded of Michael Fish when writing a preview for a game against the All Blacks… “Earlier on today apparently a woman rang the BBC and said she’d heard there was a Wales win against New Zealand on the way.
“Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry there isn’t.”
Some day Wales are going to end the long wait for a victory against the All Blacks.
Such a success will leave sports reporters and pundits with egg on their faces, just like the weatherman ahead of the Great Storm of 1987.
But the fear of making such a howler should not mean that the evidence is ignored – pre-match predictions of doom are in print ahead of tonight’s Test match because those writing them have eyes.
Wales have been abysmal in their two autumn Tests; New Zealand are unbeaten in 19.
Wales have scored 18 tries in 13 Tests in 2012; New Zealand have managed 44 in 12.
Wales are hindered by injuries to key personnel such as Adam Jones, Dan Lydiate and George North while New Zealand are in prime form, unlike when they spluttered their way to the World Cup.
Those that see a chink of light courtesy of Dan Carter’s leg problem should think again – it will be the injury that has the least impact on the outcome of a sporting occasion since David Haye’s broken little toe against Wladimir Klitschko.
Yes, Carter is the greatest player in the world but the All Blacks have too many weapons to be derailed by his absence and his deputy Aaron Cruden.
The All Blacks have too many weapons to be derailed by an injury to the greatest player in the world and his deputy Cruden has never lost in his 18 Tests.
It will never be said at the Vale of Glamorgan headquarters but keeping the scoreline respectable would count as a success this evening.
If Wales play as they did against Argentina and Samoa – both of whom could have won by far greater margins – then it will a scoreline to rival those totted up by the All Blacks when they take on minnows at the World Cup.
I don’t believe that will happen. Wales will be much better tonight that they have previously this autumn and it will not simply be down to the return of coach Warren Gatland from Lions duty.
The players will be stung by the criticism of recent weeks, both from the media and from the public on social networking sites, but nor will that be the major reason behind an improvement.
It will be because there is nothing to focus the mind like playing the All Blacks and Shaun Edwards hit the nail on the head earlier this week.
“The pressure is on for the players because we know that if we don’t perform we could get embarrassed,” he said.
“If you are slow into position, don’t keep your defensive structure or give them too much possession then you are going to get punished.
“That keeps you on your toes, there’s no doubt about that.”
Wales will carry harder, they will play with more variety and they will be sharper in defence.
They need Sam Warburton to get back to the heights of the World Cup and for Jamie Roberts to shine now that he has his favoured midfield partner back in Jonathan Davies.
If they do that, and each and every member of the matchday squad does their job in a sterling manner, then Wales will keep the deficit beneath 20.
One day Wales internationals will be able to smugly say, “we told you so,” as they are interviewed after a Test win against New Zealand.
The chances of that moment being at the Millennium Stadium this evening?
A hurricane’s more likely to blow the roof off.