Ruddock’s five steps to victory

Wales coach Mike Ruddock is determined to ensure there will be no "great escape" for New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Wales coach Mike Ruddock is determined to ensure there will be no "great escape" for New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The Six Nations champions have embarked on an eight-Test winning sequence since the All Blacks toppled them 26-25 in an epic Cardiff encounter last November.

But that defeat still hurts Ruddock and company, and the opening game of New Zealand’s potential Grand Slam tour to Great Britain and Ireland represents a perfect chance for revenge.

Ruddock is relishing the prospect of getting to grips with a side that defeated Sir Clive Woodward’s British & Irish Lions during the summer, and then went on to become Tri-Nations champions.

"We still remember the clash with New Zealand last November. It was a magnificent match, and one we still believe we should have won," said Ruddock.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

"We have been talking about five steps to victory this week – mind-set, physicality, homework, opportunity and impact.

"New Zealand had a great escape last year, and we are still kicking ourselves that we did not win, so our mind-set is to front up and really nail this one down."

He added: "We have done our homework and know which areas we want to attack, and we will make sure we take our opportunities.

"We also want to make sure our game-plan has an impact on the opposition, cutting down time and space on their attack, and imposing our game-plan."

Ruddock though, has lost six Lions from his plans for the game, which celebrates 100 years of fixtures between the countries.

Gavin Henson, Tom Shanklin, Dwayne Peel, Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones are all injured, while Martyn Williams was not considered following the death of his mother.

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Mike Phillips has beaten Gareth Cooper in the race to replace Peel, while there is also a largely untried centre pairing of Mark Taylor and Ceri Sweeney, with experienced Newcastle skipper Colin Charvis returning in a rejigged back-row alongside Jonathan Thomas and Michael Owen.

Uncapped Worcester prop Chris Horsman, who only completed a residency period to qualify for Wales in September, is among the substitutes together with fellow Test rookie, Llanelli Scarlets full-back Lee Byrne.

Wales team to play New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday:

G Thomas (Toulouse, capt); K Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Taylor (Sale Sharks), C Sweeney (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne), M Phillips (Cardiff Blues); D Jones (Ospreys), M Davies (Gloucester), A Jones (Ospreys), B Cockbain (Ospreys), R Sidoli (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), C Charvis (Newcastle), M Owen (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: R Thomas (Cardiff Blues), C Horsman (Worcester), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues), G Cooper (Newport Gwent Dragons), N Robinson (Cardiff Blues), L Byrne (Llanelli Scarlets).

Previous story Jones warning to Test hopefuls
Next story Van Gisbergen earns England call-up