Wales eye 'something special' against All Blacks in World Cup play-off

Wales player Alun Wyn Jones reacts during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final against South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on October 27, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
Wales player Alun Wyn Jones reacts during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final against South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on October 27, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
Image: Stu Forster / Getty Images

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made nine changes to the team to play New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off match on Friday, aiming for "something special" with his first-ever win over the All Blacks.

"We're disappointed not to be involved in the big game," admitted Gatland, who has led Wales to glory in the Six Nations Championship on four occasions, securing the Grand Slam in 2008, 2012 and 2019.

"It's the last game you want to be involved in.

"But a victory for us would be incredibly important."

In what will be his final match in charge after 12 years as head coach of the Welsh, Gatland brings in props Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis to the front row either side of Ken Owens.

Adam Beard partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, while James Davies comes into the back-row alongside Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.

Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell form a new half-back partnership for Wales whilst Owen Watkin features alongside Jonathan Davies in midfield.

Josh Adams, who currently leads the try scoring charts at the World Cup with six, remains in the back three alongside Owen Lane who comes in on the wing and Hallam Amos at full-back.

In 150 Test matches since Gatland's appointment as head coach, Wales have won 85, lost 63 and drawn twice.

But Gatland has lost all 11 previous Test encounters with his native New Zealand.

"It's an opportunity for us to go out there and give our best and reflect afterwards," said the former Waikato hooker.

"It would be easy to be down on ourselves and throw in the towel. But now we have an opportunity to go out there and do something special."

Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre and Wyn Jones provide the front-row cover on the bench with Jake Ball and Aaron Shingler completing the forward contingent.

Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar and Hadleigh Parkes provide the backline cover.

Wales lost 19-16 in the semi-final to South Africa, who play England, 19-7 victors over the All Blacks in their last-four clash, in Saturday's final.

Gatland's selection hand was somewhat forced with a number of injuries in the squad.

Prop Tomas Francis sustained a shoulder injury against the Springboks, while winger George North (hamstring), flanker Aaron Wainwright (hamstring) and Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) are all out while Liam Williams has undergone surgery on an ankle injury.

Wales (15-1): Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams; Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Ross Moriarty, James Davies, Justin Tipuric; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Adam Beard; Dillon Lewis, Ken Owens, Nicky Smith. Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Hadleigh Parkes

- AFP

 

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