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Sam Warburton urges Wales to be brave against New Zealand

Sam Warburton will give his players a simple message when they attempt to turn back the clock against world champions New Zealand in Saturday's first Test - who dares, wins.

The Welsh skipper, fit to return to action in Auckland after a six-week stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, wants his team to be bold as they attempt to become the first team since France in 1994 to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park.

If they can do that it would be one of the biggest upsets in the game's recent history and would end a 63-year wait for a fourth win over New Zealand.

Since they last beat the All Blacks, 13-8 in Cardiff on December 19 1953, they have lost 26 consecutive games.

"The players are extremely motivated given the very poor record we've got against New Zealand and we are all desperate to change that," said Warburton.

"We will be a hugely motivated group on Saturday.

"We are going to have to take a few risks and we can't afford to be conservative and expect to win.

"The thing with New Zealand is you're only ever one mistake away from conceding seven points and two from 14 points - the scoreboard can change within the click of your fingers.

"Being able to concentrate for the full 80 is very important. You have to take risks - he who dares, wins."

Warren Gatland's side have an edge in terms of experience - 765 caps in their starting 15 to the All Blacks' 580 - but that is about the only statistic in their favour.

Alun Wyn Jones will win his 100th cap and Warburton is one of four changes from the side that lost to England two weeks ago.

The All Blacks are unbeaten at home in their last 38 Tests stretching back to 2009 and have lost only twice in their last 40 internationals.

They became the first side to win back-to-back World Cups in their last outing seven months ago at Twickenham, and head coach Steve Hansen - who used to be in charge of Wales - knows that this weekend's game is the starting point on the journey through to their defence of the title in 2019.

"Whilst the opposition might believe that we're vulnerable because it's our first Test and we have lost some experienced players, we don't have that mindset," he said.

"We're well aware that this is a good Welsh team and not one that we'll underestimated.

"There's enough history written about how long it has been since Wales beat New Zealand and it's going to happen one day. This is a really good Welsh side and it could happen this weekend if we don't turn up and play as well as we can.

"I think then you'd really see them singing in the valleys."


From Belfast Telegraph