‘I’m glad it’s against the All Blacks’ – Wales coach relishing New Zealand challenge

Media playback is not supported on this device

Rivals know Warren Gatland’s teams are tough opponents – Robin McBryde
2019 Rugby World Cup bronze final – Wales v New Zealand
Venue: Tokyo Stadium Date: Friday, 1 November Time: 09: 00 GMT
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde says he is glad their World Cup bronze match is against New Zealand.

South Africa beat Wales 19-16 in the semi-finals, while the All Blacks – champions in 2011 and 2015 – were outplayed by England.

Wales will now try to match the third-place finish they achieved in 1987 in Tokyo on Friday (09: 00 GMT).

“I don’t think it would be the same if we were facing somebody else,” said former hooker McBryde.

“But not every team gets the opportunity to face them, especially in a World Cup.”

“I’m glad the game exists because it’s against the All Blacks,” said ex-Wales hooker McBryde.

New Zealand are the only opposition Wales have not beaten under head coach Warren Gatland – who takes charge of the side for the last time on Friday – and they are looking to achieve a first victory over the three-time world champions since 1953.

“It’s the only thing we haven’t done and this is the last opportunity for us,” said McBryde, who earned 37 caps for Wales as a player.

“Any time you face the All Blacks it will be a good encounter and a great experience.

“You can’t shy away from it, you have to embrace it – facing the haka.”

‘Hansen, he’s miserable as hell isn’t he?’

Robin McBryde (right) made 37 Wales appearances, including under Steve Hansen (second left) at the 2003 World Cup

Gatland’s New Zealand counterpart Steve Hansen, who McBryde played under when he was Wales coach at the 2003 World Cup, will also be taking charge for the last time.

McBryde joked: “It would be good to get one over on Steve Hansen – he’s miserable as hell isn’t he?!”

“I can say that because I know him pretty well. I’ve got the utmost respect for them as a coaching team. We go back a long way.

“I look forward to crossing paths again – and if we manage to get one over on them, then brilliant.”

Wales have decided not to fly anybody out to Japan to cover injuries to Liam Williams, George North and Tomas Francis.

The remaining squad are still coming to terms with semi-final defeat, but McBryde revealed they received a post-match reception to lift the spirits.

“We had a brief chat in the changing rooms, then we came back to the hotel as a group and had a fantastic welcome,” said McBryde.

“It was a sea of red, all applauding the players back into the hotel and it’s good for the players to see that.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

‘A lot of boys are gutted’ – emotional Davies reveals Wales’ World Cup ‘hurt’

Wales have received some criticism for their gameplan in Sunday’s narrow semi-final defeat by South Africa, but McBryde says the squad were boosted by fans’ reception and messages.

“We’re in a bubble over here in Japan, but the number of messages we’ve had saying the nation is still proud of what we have achieved has been great.

“Anything that comes from outside our camp doesn’t matter because they don’t know what’s going on. That’s for other people to discuss.”

McBryde has challenged his players to use that hurt of defeat as motivation in their final game of this year’s tournament in Japan.

“There was a big disappointment after coming so close to making it to the final,” said McBryde.

“We have to get rid of that now, focus on Friday and finish the job.

“We’ve been together for five months. It’s an opportunity to go out there and show what we’ve been working on.

“It’s the last game of the World Cup, playing against the All Blacks. It’s a fantastic chance to go out there and just enjoy it.”

This week represents the final game as a coaching group, with McBryde having been part of Gatland’s backroom staff for the past 12 years.

After the World Cup, he will join Leinster as forwards coach, while Gatland is returning to New Zealand to lead the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

‘What’s the magic recipe? What’s the secret?’

Warren Gatland’s Wales reign started with a 2008 Six Nations win over England at Twickenham

Wayne Pivac will take over from Gatland, with Stephen Jones and Jonathan Humphreys in his backroom staff, and McBryde is predicting a bright future.

“I’ve had my time but I’m jealous of any coach that is going to grab hold and work with these players,” said McBryde.

“Look at the ages of some of them and the successful experiences they’ve had – knowing how to win games, being in tight situations, getting out of it on top.

“If you don’t win, you’re always wondering: ‘What’s the magic recipe? What’s the secret?’

“Those players have experienced it first hand, so they know it’s down to hard work and some of those values I’ve spoken about.

“Any coach coming in to work with these individuals, they have to be excited.

“The talent is there. Tomos Williams to name one who has stood out, Aaron Wainwright is another one.

“These are young men with bright futures.”

McBryde’s ‘difficult time’

McBryde has experienced a traumatic few weeks following the death of his mother Diana while he has been out in Japan and he revealed how his family and the Wales squad had helped him cope.

“It’s been a difficult time,” said McBryde.

“I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by strong women in my life – my wife and my sisters.

“With their support I’ve been able to stay out here and just focus on the work.

“The players and the management out here have also made it a lot easier for me.”

Read More