Kieran Hardy warns Wales to ‘be prepared’ as they aim to end New Zealand’s winning run
Kieran Hardy says Wales will need to be “switched on at all times” in their Autumn Nations Series opener against New Zealand.
The All Blacks arrive in Cardiff seeking a 33rd successive victory over their hosts.
Wales have not toppled New Zealand since 1953 and the All Blacks again carry a tag of overwhelming favourites to continue that one-sided sequence.
The November 5 clash will be Wales’ first home game since they were left stunned by annual Six Nations strugglers Italy in March.
Just a few months after that shock defeat, though, Hardy and company were part of an historic Wales victory over South Africa in Bloemfontein during a 2-1 Test series loss.
“The way they play the game is completely different,” Wales scrum-half Hardy said. “You have to expect anything from them.
“They are not afraid to take risks, and they play a bit more of an expansive game than the Springboks maybe did in the summer.
“We will be prepared for that and we’ve got to be switched on at all times.”
New Zealand began the recent Rugby Championship by losing in South Africa and then coming unstuck at home to Argentina.
But they recovered impressively to finish the campaign strongly and claim another title in the annual showcase southern hemisphere competition.
Hardy added: “I think they looked a bit more like themselves towards the end of the Rugby Championship and the way they wanted to play the game.
“It’s always a test playing against the best team in the world. It will be a big challenge for us.
“We haven’t mentioned it (All Blacks history) too much, to be honest.
“A lot of the boys have played against the All Blacks before and have said how big a test it is, and we know how big a challenge it is first game up.
“Personally, it would be great to play against the All Blacks – a team I’ve always wanted to play against, with the best players, particularly (New Zealand scrum-half) Aaron Smith.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play against (Antoine) Dupont and Faf (de Klerk) in the last few months, who I have always thought are up there, so it would be a great challenge.
“New Zealand are a team I have always watched, and the way they play the game. They were quite successful in their last campaign towards the end and they will be coming over here looking for big results.”
Hardy, meanwhile, has underlined the importance of Wales building on their summer tour to South Africa, even if the Test series ultimately went against them.
“We gave a good account of ourselves out there – we probably should have won the first Test, which would have made it a bit different again,” he said.
“We made a bit of history in the summer, winning in South Africa for the first time.
“And nothing really changes for us. We are here to build week on week, get the performances and the results we are after.”
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