Undeterred by five successive Test defeats, Sam Warburton believes Wales have "every chance" of beating New Zealand, the world champions, at the Millennium Stadium next Saturday.
New Zealand, meanwhile, arrived in Cardiff yesterday on the back of a 19-game unbeaten run and they will defend a 24-match winning sequence against Wales that stretches back almost 60 years. The All Blacks will unquestionably head into next month's 2015 World Cup draw as the No 1 seeds. In contrast, Wales are clinging on to a top-eight spot in the wake of damaging home setbacks against both Argentina and Samoa.
The Six Nations title-holders have not lost six games on the bounce since Steve Hansen, the current All Blacks head coach, was in charge of them 10 years ago. But flanker Warburton is trying his best to put a positive spin on the most uphill of challenges. "I guess there is no pressure on us now because nobody will expect anything next Saturday," Warburton said.
"We are going to see who turns up on the day. That is sport, that is why there are underdogs, and underdogs can beat the favourites. If it was very predictable, nobody would watch it. There is every chance we can win next Saturday – I definitely believe that."
While Wales were digesting their defeat by Samoa on Saturday, Ireland romped to a 53-0 victory over fellow Pacific Islanders Fiji at Thomond Park.
Their captain, Jamie Heaslip, expressed his pride at the willingness of his young team-mates to put their bodies on the line. "I was quite proud of the performance of the squad," said the powerful No 8. "It was a privilege to lead out a side that was full of such an enthusiastic bunch of guys."