sport

Rees relishing All Blacks test

Matthew Rees believes Saturday's clash with New Zealand is the perfect fixture for Wakes following their recent disappointments.

Six times Rees has tried and failed to be part of a winning Wales team against New Zealand.

Given New Zealand's overwhelming dominance of the fixture - 24 successive victories stretching back 59 years - the former Wales captain is hardly alone in that department.

But even after suffering successive home losses to Argentina and Samoa, results that inevitably sapped confidence levels, Rees has billed Saturday's clash with New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium as an ideal fixture.

"It's great for us to be facing the All Blacks this week," Rees said. "We know if we play like we did in terms of our last two performances then we are going to be in for a tough day at the office and probably concede a lot of points.

"There are no illusions. We know that we've got to turn up on Saturday.

"We are a tight bunch who have been working hard together. You cannot fault the working week, but we know it's not about the working week.

"Obviously, it helps in terms of your preparation, but it's game day that counts and that is the most important thing this week."

While New Zealand are on a 19-Test unbeaten run against all opponents - Australia were the last team to defeat them 15 months ago - Wales have dropped to eighth in the world rankings.

The formbook therefore points to an emphatic All Blacks success on Saturday, although Wales can draw on memories of 2004 and 2009 in Cardiff when they finished within a score of winning and drawing, respectively.

"We haven't put in a performance during the past two weeks as a team and individuals, and it has been a bit of a wake-up call," added Rees, who has been capped 55 times.

"But we don't become a bad team overnight. We've had great success over the last 12-14 months and we've had a bit of a blip.

"When you face the world champions in your own back yard, as a player, a team and nation, if you can't get up for that then there is something wrong with you.

"We know how good the All Blacks are as a team and as individuals, but we know how good we can be as well.

"The whole All Blacks squad, no matter who they pick to play, they are all capable with ball in hand, they can all do a job in the contact area. That makes them the best team in the world.

"It is another step up in terms of what we have faced over the last two weeks and it is important for us that we start well in the first 10-15 minutes and make sure we take the game to them.

"We have been frustrated with ourselves in terms of the way we have played the last two weeks. We know we are a better team than that.

"We have got the best supporters in world rugby and we know everyone will be turning up on Saturday to see us perform. It's up to us to make sure that happens. The supporters deserve it."