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Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb relishing challenge of New Zealand tour

Wales star Rhys Webb admits he is "like a little kid" in terms of his excitement levels for tackling world rugby's toughest assignment.

Webb and his Wales colleagues will fly to New Zealand on Monday for a three-Test series against the world champion All Blacks.

And their degree of difficulty is underlined by the fact that Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 26 successive Tests, while their record on All Blacks soil shows seven losses from seven starts, conceding an average 40 points per game.

Six Nations champions England are first up for Wales at Twickenham on Sunday in a tour preparation fixture that has led to many pundits questioning its validity as a serious international contest.

Apart from readying themselves for the All Blacks, though, Wales also head to English rugby headquarters just 11 weeks after seeing their Six Nations title hopes disappear on the back of a first-half no-show that left them searching for answers.

"I am raring to go," scrum-half Webb said.

"I have got that buzz about me, and I'm like a little kid. I feel fresh and ready to be part of a big tour to New Zealand.

"Sunday is a must-win game for us. We need to build momentum going into the New Zealand tour. We weren't there mentally or physically in the first 40 minutes against England in the Six Nations.

"It's very important to win this game on Sunday because it will lead us on to New Zealand with some momentum. We know how competitive it will be down there, but it is all about us this weekend."

Most money is on New Zealand to record a series whitewash, even though Steve Hansen's men face a degree of rebuilding, given their post-World Cup team will not feature superstar players like Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

But Webb added: "There is no point going on a tour like this thinking you are going to lose three Tests. We are winners, we want to pick up trophies.

" When it comes to the All Blacks, you have to be able to go on for the full 80 minutes. We all know what they are capable of.

"We aren't going to look at the history of the games against New Zealand. It's only for the media to write about - we certainly won't let that get to us.

"I have only played against the Al Blacks once before - in 2014 - and I have full respect for any team that can win two World Cups. They are a world-class team with world-class individuals. They all have a great skill set, from numbers one to 15, and the props can do things that the backs can do.

"We got close to them in 2014, but it is that last one per cent when your lungs are burning and your legs are going, you have to be able to communicate and provide a bit of noise and encouragement to those guys around you.

"When you go down, you have to be able to bounce up and make the next tackle. It really is about full concentration from start to finish."


From Belfast Telegraph