‘I don’t think there is a hoodoo over it’: Wales prop Tomas Francis dismisses talk of his side having an All Blacks curse ahead of their Cardiff showdown
- It has been 68 years since Wales last managed to defeat the mighty All Blacks
- The two sides meet at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday
- Seven English-based players are missing as it’s outside the international window
- George North, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi are also missing because of injury
Wales will not entertain talk of their curse against New Zealand this week, as they aim to be the history boys in Cardiff.
It has been 68 years since the Welsh last beat the All Blacks, notching their third ever victory over them in 1953.
And with seven English-based players unavailable, as the Test is outside the international window, plus injuries to George North, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi, it will be another tall order.
Tomas Francis and Wales will not entertain talk of their curse against New Zealand this week
Liam Williams, who had his appendix removed recently, and Ellis Jenkins, recovering from a rib problem, also face a race against time to be fit this weekend so Wales called up Alex Cuthbert, 31, on Monday – who last won a cap in 2017.
But ahead of Saturday’s match Wales, the Six Nations reigning champions, are sick of historical statistics.
Asked if they suffered from a psychological barrier against New Zealand prop Tomas Francis said: ‘I don’t think so. People used to say that about Australia, then we beat them twice in a year (in 2019) so I don’t think it’s a banana skin or there’s a hoodoo over it.
‘It doesn’t affect us what people say in the public, it’s the belief we’ve got in the squad. We’ve had a lot of time since Wayne Pivac has come in, the squad has developed, and it’s a great opportunity to show that.
‘It’s not what drives us, proving people wrong. What drives us is proving our potential and showing our identity of what we’re trying to be on the pitch.
‘We’re comfortable as a nation as we’ve always had that underdog tag. It’s not something we want, we’re happy to be the favourites too.’
Francis always missed these out-of-window Tests when at Exeter Chiefs, blocked from being released, but now at the Ospreys he is glad to be available unlike Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau, Louis Rees-Zammit, Callum Sheedy, Nick Tompkins, Thomas Young and Christ Tshiunza.
It has been 68 years since Wales beat the All Blacks, which was their third ever win over them
‘If you play in England you sacrifice at least one game in the autumn,’ Francis added – who would have ended his Wales career if he had not left Exeter, without the 60 caps required to play outside the country.
‘That’s a choice you make. For people who play in Wales that’s the carrot, a game to be involved in that you wouldn’t be otherwise.
‘It was a good time to move back. A no-brainer. The wife is from Cardiff so she was happy, and it meant I got more time in camp, time to develop here, and a change in scenery.
‘If you haven’t got 60 caps and your contract is up it’s in your hands to make that decision.’
Francis is now growing into a leader, with 57 caps, a far cry from his days a decade ago as an overweight university student in Leeds.
‘I have pinch myself over my rugby journey but now I’ve come back to Wales, I’m a bit further on in my career, I’ve had to change my mental attitude,’ said the 29-year-old.
‘I’m not that young kid on the rise. I have to try to drive my standards and be a bit more of a leader.’