Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Wales will risk it all against All Blacks

If the words of coach Warren Gatland and captain Sam Warburton are anything to go by, Wales are prepared to take risks in order to break their losing streak against the All Blacks which stretches back 63 years.

Warburton, back just in time after from six weeks out with a shoulder injury, was in no doubt about the size of the challenge facing his team but said there was no point trying to limit the damage against the world champions at Eden Park on Saturday.

"Who dares wins, as they say," Warburton said. "I think there are going to be opportunities during the game... We're going to have to take some risks during the game. We can't be conservative and expect to win."

New Zealander Gatland said: "The message to our team is be bold. Be smart in the way you play, but don't be afraid to take those risks and try things."

Under Gatland, Wales had become known for a safety-first strategy but at the recent World Cup their willingness to play with more flair - and from deep in terms of the backline - paid benefits, including their thrilling pool match victory over England at Twickenham.

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Whether Wales follow through in terms of a more expansive game plan in the first test remains to be seen - because risk-taking will present the All Blacks with opportunities, and, significantly, Gatland wants to keep things tight in order for the home side to feel the pressure late in the game.

"For us, the challenge is to stay in the fight... and maybe they haven't got the same experience that they've relied on in the past," he said.

There is experience in the Wales pack, and size in the backline, with midfielder Jamie Roberts and wing George North two of the biggest in their positions in the world.

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There is also size and experience within the All Blacks - and probably more pace and skill - with Gatland saying the starting XV named by Steve Hansen was a predictable one.

"Obviously they have picked the most experienced team that they could, with the combinations there. I've spoken to the players and said that my understanding of New Zealand this week will be the basics, focusing on the basics - being accurate, not being afraid to play a bit of territory and put us under pressure and see if we make mistakes.

"We have to match that and be accurate ourselves. I'd say their policy will be to try to win the first two tests and then throw the youngsters in for the third test. We're not going to roll over or make it easy for that to happen. We're really excited about Saturday and we're going to go out there and do that jersey proud."

- NZ Herald

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