'Massive' All Blacks challenge excites Wales winger Adams

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Wales winger Josh Adams said on Thursday he was "buzzing" for the "massive challenge" of playing New Zealand even though the odds will favour the All Blacks heavily when the teams meet in Cardiff next weekend.


The showpiece fixture will see Wales launch their end-of-year series in front of a capacity crowd at the Principality Stadium.

But any home advantage is likely to be negated by the fact the hosts will be without several first-choice players due to unavailability and injuries.

Seven England-based players -- including the British and Irish Lions trio of Dan Biggar, Louis Rees-Zammit and Taulupe Faletau -- will all be absent as their clubs are not obliged to release them for an October 30 fixture that falls outside of World Rugby's designated window for international matches.

Meanwhile, established players in George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi are all currently injured.

In addition to all that, Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953 -- a run of 31 successive defeats by New Zealand, with 16 of those losses taking place in Cardiff.

It all represents a tough start to a gruelling campaign that sees reigning Six Nations champions Wales playing South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

"With the biggest challenge comes the biggest rewards. Why not think of it like that?" Wales and Lions winger Adams said Thursday.

"Everyone selected in the coaches' eyes are good enough to be international rugby players. What better challenge for someone who hasn't faced one of the big southern hemisphere countries before to face the All Blacks?

"When you get that opportunity -- no matter if you've played 150 Tests like Al (Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones) or a couple in some boys' cases -- against the All Blacks you want to show up.

"That is our mentality. We've got to show up as a team. It is a massive challenge, but I am buzzing for it and I know that energy is going through the whole squad."

'Hurt any team'

The 26-year-old Adams added: "We respect them, of course we do, as a fantastic team who have been one of the best for a number of years and are coming off another Rugby Championship win. That is impressive.

"But then again, we are a very good team. When we get things right, we can hurt any team.

"Some of you will ask about injuries, and we have got some, unfortunately. That's rugby. It is a great opportunity to see where we are in terms of the depth chart."

While Wales have long been Six Nations title contenders they have a poor record against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Since winning their first Six, as opposed to Five, Nations title in 2005, Wales have played 53 matches in total against the trio of southern hemisphere giants, but have enjoyed nine wins and one draw.

"The Six Nations is an unbelievable tournament in its own right, and we have a good record in that," said Adams, a veteran of 33 Tests.

"But showing up in the autumn when we play these big teams, continuing a winning run into the autumn and beating them is a fantastic statement to put down.

"I think there are four campaigns before we get to France for the 2023 World Cup, so every one needs to be better than the last one."