Landmarks loom for Alun Wyn Jones and Beauden Barrett as Wales take on New Zealand
Milestones await two of today’s outstanding rugby union players at Alun wyn jones and Beauden barrett when Wales face New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 6:15 p.m. South African time.
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Wales captain Jones is ready to play his 149th Testing for his country, with the lockdown set to surpass former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw’s world record for appearances for just one country in a match between the European Six Nations champions and the championship winners. recently crowned southern hemisphere rugby.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s opening half Barrett is online to win his 100th cap as a strong and changed squad head to the first leg of a European tour following the All Blacks’ 104-14 loss to the United States in Washington last weekend.
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At 30, the two-time World Player of the Year is one of the few who can overtake Jones and New Zealand coach Ian Foster said of Barrett: “He’s just a good person. What I like about him is that he prepares the team first and then himself. He is very selfless.
‘Selflessness’ has long been a quality attributed to Jones, who also appeared in 12 tests for the British and Irish Lions, with Wales coach Wayne Pivac calling his skipper a “The ultimate professional”.
He added: “It’s fantastic that he does one more than Richie McCaw, but generally for Al it’s not about him, it’s about the team coming together and putting on a great performance.”
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It could be particularly difficult this weekend with many fearing for Wales as they lack a top-notch streak.
Dashing winger Louis-Rees Zammit, opening half Dan Biggar and number 8 Taulupe Faletau have not been released by their England-based clubs as Saturday’s game falls outside the designated testing window by the ‘International Rugby Board.
Liam Williams, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi are among a long list of injuries.
Wales have suffered 31 straight defeats against New Zealand since their last victory against the All Blacks in 1953.
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But Pivac, himself a New Zealander, said his team should rejoice over James’ Buster ‘Douglas’ stunning victory over undefeated heavyweight boxing world champion Mike Tyson in 1990.
“I could cause upheaval here – James ‘Buster’ Douglas and Mike Tyson. Every once in a while you get a huge upheaval.
Meanwhile, Pivac, a former Scarlets coach who has been in Wales for seven years, defended the match schedule by insisting the Welsh Rugby Union cannot refuse the estimated £ 4million they she would win the game.
“Looking at the finances of this country, without this match, we would have big problems”, he said.
And he insisted his reshaped squad, with New Zealand-born opening half-back Gareth Anscombe making his first test start in more than two years following a ligament injury, would be inspired to play in front of a large crowd at the Principality Stadium in what will be Wales. first international sell-out since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You can pull statistics like 68 years of defeat… It’s an opportunity to go out there and put in a good performance. 75,000 people have been starving for this, so we have a job to do to make it a great opportunity. “
It was a point endorsed by Foster, who asked what his side could expect, replied: “Loud, loud, fanatic and red… I feel a real advantage in this game. We felt it in New Zealand when we were able to fill a stadium for the first time after the Covid period.
“We love these opportunities, we know it will certainly fuel our opposition, but we need to make sure that they also fuel us with excitement.”
15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Alternates: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Ben Thomas
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain) , 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Alternates: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Sevu Reece