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Scott Williams: Wales need to think positively for New Zealand tour

Published 30/05/2016

Centre Scott Williams is fully aware of the challenge facing Wales on their tour of New Zealand
Centre Scott Williams is fully aware of the challenge facing Wales on their tour of New Zealand

Scott Williams says Wales will need to do everything "on the money" when they tackle world rugby's toughest assignment.

Wales centre Williams and company headed to New Zealand on Monday, where the world champion All Blacks await across a three-Test series in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

They have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 26 successive Tests, while their away record in the fixture shows seven defeats from seven starts, conceding an average 40 points per game.

The Wales squad also boarded their flight without 57 times-capped flanker Dan Lydiate, who suffered a shoulder injury during Sunday's 27-13 defeat against England at Twickenham and was replaced in the tour party by uncapped Cardiff Blues forward Ellis Jenkins.

Lydiate joined Alex Cuthbert and Justin Tipuric in missing the tour through injury, while Wales showed next to nothing during the England game to suggest they will trouble New Zealand.

"We have to think positively," said Scarlets centre Williams, who made his international return at Twickenham following a serious knee injury sustained on the same ground during last autumn's World Cup.

"There is no point in us going to New Zealand with negative thoughts, otherwise it's going to be a long couple of weeks.

"We've got to take the positives and a couple of work-ons into the next two weeks.

"I think everyone is going to have to play one of their best games to be able to beat New Zealand. That's what it is going to take, and that's what we have been training for in the last couple of weeks.

"It's trying to lift the standards up. Every pass, everything you do is on the money, because when we play New Zealand, it's going to have to be."

Reflecting on his return to Wales colours, Williams added: "It felt like my first game back, but it was a good blow-out.

"It always takes one or two games at international level to get used to the intensity, so hopefully, I will be better next time around."

France-based players Jonathan Davies and Luke Charteris are due to join up with the squad following Top 14 club commitments, while skipper Sam Warburton is on course to be fit for the first Test on June 11 following a shoulder injury.

But the loss of Lydiate, who captained Wales against England in Warburton's absence, is a major blow, although Gloucester flanker Ross Moriarty's performance at Twickenham suggests he could slot seamlessly into any back-row combination Wales head coach Warren Gatland decides to select.

"What's going to be key in New Zealand is being able to keep the tempo for 80 minutes, and that's where we struggled against England in the second-half," Gatland said.

"But that was the whole reason for the game - to prepare to play a team like the All Blacks, who keep going for the whole 80 minutes.

"I think we can be ready with more conditioning work in training and getting a little bit more accuracy in our attack. What went wrong against England isn't anything that's not fixable.

"We will work at fixing the stuff that was poor, but I put a lot of that down to players not having played at this level for a long time."

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