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McBryde: Williams will drive us on

Robin McBryde says Wales will be inspired by the Millennium Stadium presence of Owen Williams when they face world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

Williams suffered what was described as a significant spinal cord injury playing for Cardiff Blues during the World 10s tournament in Singapore five months ago.

The 23-year-old, who won four Wales caps in 2013, has been treated in Cardiff's Rockwood Hospital and is showing continued signs of progress.

He is set to be among a capacity 74,500 crowd for the All Blacks' visit, and Wales forwards coach McBryde said: "It's quite inspiring when you talk to Owen, how positive he is.

"He hopes for the best, he keeps on working with the physios, and that in itself is quite inspiring.

"When you meet Owen, he doesn't hold a grudge against anybody.

"He is making small gains. He is working hard with the physios, and everyone hopes he is going to make a full recovery.

"Having him here watching the game on Saturday, that will be inspiring. It's good to see Owen and the support he has had, and hopefully we can give him something to cheer about tomorrow."

Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, losing 25 successive Tests against them, while their last victory against either New Zealand, South Africa or Australia came six years ago when they toppled the Wallabies 21-18.

And the bookmakers have installed New Zealand as overwhelming favourites to continue that sequence this weekend in their final game on European soil until next year's World Cup.

"There are going to be some critical moments in the game, and we have to make sure that we come out on top during those critical moments," McBryde added.

"There will be no quarter asked, no quarter given. We are going to have to be at our best, and we know if we can do that we are not going to be too far away.

"I don't think there is any secret. It is about hard work and not making any mistakes, taking all the opportunities when they come along.

"In the past when we have come up against New Zealand, sometimes we have been awestruck.

"We have been on this stage quite a bit now, there has been good consistency within the squad and the players have been around a fair bit and come through quite a bit together.

"At some stage, we are going to come out on top. I would like to think that we will be sooner, rather than later. You just have to keep on hammering away."

Recent Wales versus New Zealand encounters in Cardiff have been notable for drama surrounding the All Blacks' pre-match haka.

In 2006, New Zealand's players performed their ritual challenge to the opposition in the changing room, protesting because Wales wanted to sing their national anthem after the haka. And two years later, Wales famously stared down the haka and then refused to move before their opponents did.

Each time, though, Wales ended up being well beaten, losing 45-10 and 29-9, respectively.

"In the past, we've seen them do the haka out of sight - that didn't work," McBryde added.

"We've had a stand-off - that didn't work; and we've had someone writing a letter in suggesting that we actually mirror what was happening at Rorke's Drift, with two rows, the first row down on their knees and walking towards them.

"At the end of the day, you realise there is no short-cut to it. It's hard work. Focus on the rugby, focus on making sure those critical moments are taken.

"We know this black wave is going to come, I only hope the boys have learned from past experience.

"They can take a lot of confidence from how hard we have pushed both South Africa and Australia, and if we can give ourselves an opportunity by being accurate in everything we do and maintain our discipline, then it will be close."


From Belfast Telegraph