Wales no longer fear All Blacks

Wales coach Warren Gatland at training this week. Photo: Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland at training this week. Photo: Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland has revealed that regular matches against the All Blacks has taken away a fear factor for opponents.

On Sunday, Wales and the All Blacks will meet for the 11th time since since Gatland took over as coach in 2007. The world champions have won all 10 tests so far, five of which in Cardiff, however Gatland says his players are becoming more comfortable when fronting against the black jersey.

"I think in the past, and rightly so, the All Blacks, having been the best team in the world consistently, you kind of have almost that fear factor about playing them," Gatland said.

"The fact that some of these players have played them on a regular basis, it is not kind of that sort of trepidation, I suppose, in terms of familiarity.

"Having played against a number of those players on a regular basis, you just feel a bit more comfortable."

Despite that familiarity Gatland, who coached the British and Irish Lions to a famous drawn series against the All Blacks in June, said the All Blacks aren't ever vulnerable.

"People are saying things about the All Blacks at the moment - someone asked me the question the other day, looking for a headline, were they vulnerable - I don't think the All Blacks are ever vulnerable.

"Saturday is their last game of the tour, and they get a break after it. That makes them as dangerous as at any time.

"They are undefeated on this tour.

"They know how to win, they know how to grind out performances and they know to come back."

Gatland has recalled 12 players who started in the 29-21 loss to the Wallabies at Principality Stadium two weeks ago, including the entire forward pack.

Two of the three backline changes are forced by injury, with British and Irish Lions stars Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies making way because of injury.

Scott Williams sees off the challenge of veteran midfield Jamie Roberts to start in Davies' centre berth. Roberts is on the reserves bench.

Liam Williams' fullback spot goes to Leigh Halfpenny, who shifts from the wing, making room for Hallam Amos.

Amos, Scott Williams and halfback Rhys Webb all won starts on the back of strong showings in last week's 13-7 win over Georgia.

Gatland has stuck with rising flankers Josh Navidi and Aaron Shingler over experienced pair Justin Tipuric and Dan Lydiate.

Five of the starting side were involved in this year's drawn series between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones, who will play his 121st Test at lock, and No 8 Toby Faletau started all three Lions tests. Halfpenny, Webb and hooker Ken Owens had bench roles.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Hallam Amos, Scott Williams, Owen Williams, Steff Evans, DanBiggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Jake Ball, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Rob Evans. Reserves: Kristian Dacey, Wyn Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts.

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