By Patrick McKendry in Tokyo

A strong sense of history is driving the All Blacks and Wales as they prepare for the difficult task of getting up for their World Cup bronze playoff match in Tokyo tomorrow.

For New Zealand it's the chance to maintain a winning record that has lasted for 66 years and for the Welsh it's the chance to halt a shocking 30-test losing streak, which is the longest enjoyed by the All Blacks against any nation.

The All Blacks named a strong side for Wales giving those who are moving on the send off they deserve. VIDEO / Mark Mitchell

Both opposing head coaches are also about to lead their teams into a test for a final time.


"We've got a history against them that we need to keep feeding and we've got a legacy that we have a responsibility for," Steve Hansen said.

"It's been a long time," Wales coach and former All Black Warren Gatland said. "Sixty six years is a heck of a long time not to beat a side. We've had success against every other nation. The All Blacks have been that elusive team we haven't been able to conquer. There's a lot at stake even though both teams are very disappointed not be involved in the big game… a victory for us would be incredibly special."

It's the game no one wants to play after losing a semifinal; Wales lost to South Africa in theirs a day after the All Blacks lost to England, but it's also the last chance either side have of taking something positive out of Japan.

Gatland, probably fully aware of how this match will be viewed in New Zealand, expects both teams to play in a positive fashion. It won't compare with the atmosphere and pressure attached to the final between England and South Africa a day later in Yokohama, but it may be a better spectacle as a result should Wales attempt to play a bit more than they did in their defeat to the Boks.

"I think [NZ Rugby chief executive] Steve Tew made a joke to [Wales counterpart] Martyn Phillips that maybe both teams should have a boat race and we could settle it that way," Gatland, about to return to Hamilton to coach the Chiefs, said. "I could see the relevance in that. We've got the game… you think about the chance to play the All Blacks and that gets you excited."

Both teams will look vastly different to their semifinal line-ups, with Hansen making seven changes to the All Blacks and Gatland making nine to Wales. All Blacks flanker Ardie Savea is unavailable due to a meniscus (knee) tear which doesn't require surgery but which will set him back for two months. Wales also have several injury concerns.

Both coaches have also coached at Wales, and while the history between Hansen and Gatland gained another layer of controversy during the drawn Lions tour two years ago, their pair were complimentary of each other today.

"He's done a great job, hasn't he?" Hansen said. "Having been there myself, he came into an environment which had been successful with [Mike] Ruddock and his crew had won a Six Nations. They'd had a poor World Cup. They had lost to Fiji and didn't make it out of their pool. They had a bit of adversity and he's come in and moulded them and brought good staff with him and built a team that's become very competitive. I think they were No1 before the World Cup weren't they? I think that speaks for itself."


Gatland, who has coached Wales for 12 years, said of Hansen: "There's no doubt he'll leave a legacy behind in terms of what he's achieved as an All Blacks coach.

"He's made a massive impression on New Zealand rugby and I think he'll be a big loss."