‘Wales have belief to beat All Blacks’ – Tomas Francis

Date published: October 26 2021 - Planet Rugby

Wales’ poor overall record against the All Blacks will not be a factor when the sides meet at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

That is the word from Ospreys and Wales front-row Tomas Francis, who believes they will not be facing a psychological barrier despite his country losing their last 31 Tests against New Zealand.

Key players absent for Wales

With Saturday’s encounter taking place outside World Rugby’s autumn international window, Wales will be minus the services of stalwarts like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit because they have not been released by their Premiership clubs.

And a number of key personnel are absent through injuries, with British and Irish Lions stars such as George North, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric all currently sidelined.

Asked if there was a psychological barrier against the All Blacks, 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.”

Wales face South Africa, Fiji and Australia next month in a demanding schedule less than two years out from the next World Cup.

And former Exeter forward Francis, capped 57 times by Wales, is relishing the prospect of a fourth Test match this autumn.

He added: “You get to play another Test match in a year – how can that be a negative?

“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.”

Francis is eligible to face New Zealand after joining the Ospreys this summer, and he said: “It has been frustrating in the past when I’ve had to miss out on these games and training weeks, but to be here now and to be able to take part in every training (session) was a massive pull for me to come back.

“For me, it was a good time to move back. The wife is from Cardiff, so she was happy to come back, and it meant I got more time in camp, time to develop here, and a change in scenery to develop on that side.

“It is exciting for the boys who will get to wear the jersey. Some of the boys that usually start might not be there, but what it gives us is an opportunity, and playing against the All Blacks is a great game to be involved in.”

Wales set to be without Liam Williams against All Blacks

Meanwhile, Wales are set to be without experienced full-back Liam Williams for the international against New Zealand on Saturday.

Williams, who has 71 caps for his country, had an operation on his appendix earlier this month and is the latest player to be absent from Wales’ squad.

And although the versatile back has linked up with the squad ahead of their Autumn Nations Series, the All Blacks match seems likely to arrive too soon.