Back in the day Wales could run on to a rugby paddock and field a team stacked with A-list names. Try these for starters: J P R Williams, Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards, Mervyn Davies and Bobby Windsor. The 2016 tourists, who begin their mission this evening at Fortress Eden, might seem to be shy of such legendary figures, but lack for nothing that would blunt their ambition.

They are chasing history in the form of an All Black scalp, which they last claimed in 1953. That is an awfully long time for a proud nation, which defeated New Zealand the first time they met in December 1905.

The All Blacks have not played since last October, when they were crowned world champions. Steve Hansen's team have a fresh feel and a new captain in Kieran Read but are unlikely to be vulnerable. The visitors might fancy that tonight is their best chance to seize a famous victory. The fact that the coaches in charge of the rival sides are New Zealanders adds a personal dimension to the contest.

The deep history between the sides stretches back to the famous try denied Bob Deans and the Original All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in 1905 to Andy Haden's infamous lineout dive in the 1978 grand slam test.


The Welsh will bring passion, hope and magnificent voices to Eden Park tonight. The singing might raise the roof. The All Blacks will need to be at their best to ensure that the din doesn't inspire the scarlet warriors to steal the show.