Wales fly-half Dan Biggar has pledged to make Richie McCaw’s century of appearances as All Blacks captain as unhappy an occasion as possible at the Millennium Stadium today.
McCaw has an 88 per cent winning record as international captain and, on current form, is expected to lead New Zealand to victory once more.
Biggar can fully expect to have to deal with the ever-marauding open-side during the course of the 80 minutes but insisted he and his team-mates were focused on making it an uncomfortable afternoon for McCaw.
“It’s a huge testament for him to win 100 caps as captain of his country,” said the Ospreys fly-half, who returns to the side after missing the Fiji game with a groin injury. “He’s the glue that holds that pack together. Given his achievements, it’s a privilege to be on the same pitch as him.
“But we have to put that to one side and make life as uncomfortable for him as possible. We have to be aggressive at the contact area, put New Zealand under a bit of pressure and see how they respond.”
Any Welshman will tell you it is 61 years since the All Blacks came to Cardiff and were sent back with their tails between their legs, the Welsh having succumbed to 25 defeats since that heady day just eight years after the end of the Second World War.
Biggar agreed that winning this afternoon would be bigger than adding a third Six Nations title in four years in the upcoming campaign. “You just have to look at New Zealand’s record since the World Cup where they have had a couple of defeats and draws,” he added. “For us to win would be one of the best days in our rugby careers. It’s a huge challenge but there is no pressure on us, New Zealand are expected to win. We have no qualms about being the underdogs.”
McCaw and his colleagues will be confident of win No 88 under his leadership and maintaining an average winning margin over Wales of 20 points but, despite being little better than 7-1 to win with bookmakers, Biggar believes Wales have the players to upset the established order.
“We want to try to manipulate the New Zealand back three with our kicking game,” said Biggar, who has five British and Irish Lions outside him. “We also have the bail-out options of Jamie Roberts crashing up the middle, the left foot of Jonathan Davies and we can also bring in people like George North and Alex Cuthbert off the wing.
“That is a nice luxury to have and we have the players in the back line to challenge them. As an outside-half, it gives you more comfort knowing you have these world-class players outside you.”
The last time the two sides met, Wales slumped to a 33-10 defeat in a ruthless display by the tourists in November 2012. Back then, coach Warren Gatland had half an eye on the upcoming Lions tour having taken some time off Wales duty during the autumn to focus on that tour.
Very much back at the helm, the Kiwi has drummed into his players the importance that any mistake will be severely punished, as a spirited Scotland found to their detriment last weekend.
“We will have to come up with nine out of 10 or 10 out of 10 performances to get a result,” admitted Biggar. “That’s the reality. Anything below nine out of 10 from each of us is probably not going to be good enough. We have to turn up and push ourselves to demand excellence.”Reuse content