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Halfpenny aims to hit top gear


Wales' Leigh Halfpenny is aiming to defeat New Zealand

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny is aiming to defeat New Zealand

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny is aiming to defeat New Zealand

Leigh Halfpenny has stressed the need for relentless self-belief when Wales target a rare victory over world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

Wales last toppled the All Blacks 61 years ago, since when they have suffered 25 successive defeats against them and conceded more than 800 points in the process.

New Zealand end their European tour at the Millennium Stadium this weekend, in what will be a final appearance on British and Irish shores until next year's World Cup.

They are firm favourites to beat Wales once again, but a home team that contains 10 British and Irish Lions Test players - including full-back Halfpenny - should not be dismissed lightly.

"It's a huge challenge, but one that we are very excited about," Halfpenny said.

"We will have to be at the top of our game to be in with a shout of winning.

"We need to play for the 80 minutes and cannot afford to have a lapse of concentration against a side as good as the All Blacks.

"We have to believe that we can win, right from the first minute. There is respect for them, but we have to treat them exactly the same as other opponents.

"There is a buzz and excitement and the fact that we haven't beaten the All Blacks for so long means there is an opportunity for us.

"There have been some great victories during my career in a Welsh shirt, but to beat the All Blacks would be at the top of them."

Shaun Edwards, meanwhile, has hailed Wales' back-row of "model professionals" as they prepare to make Welsh rugby history.

The breakaway trio of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau will start their 19th Test match together in Saturday's All Blacks Test.

And that means they remove a revered back-row that played during Wales' so-called 1970s golden era - Dai Morris, John Taylor and Mervyn Davies - from the record books.

Wales captain Warburton and Lydiate both made their international debuts in 2009, while number eight Faletau followed two years later.

But they have already collected more than 120 caps between them, and all three are Lions Test players.

"They all came through together, basically," Wales defence coach Edwards said.

"They have been very, very good and proficient for us over the years, and hopefully a lot more years to come.

"They are all model professionals, they work hard at their game and their lifestyles are excellent. We are lucky to have them."