Principality Stadium set for first sell out since start of Covid-19 pandemic

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The All Blacks had detected a sense of celebration of people being able to be together again, watching rugby in their national stadium, and having experienced similar emotions in New Zealand last year, they know what to expect.

 

The rivalry stretches back to 1905, and while Wales last succeeded in 1953, the chance to be the first to win since then was a powerful motivation for Welsh sides.

 

"We felt it in New Zealand when we were first able to fill a stadium after the Covid period and there was almost a sense of celebration about being together and a party atmosphere," Foster said.

 

"When you add those variables into this game, I think it is going to be an outstanding environment. We love these occasions and we know that is going to fuel our opposition, but we've got to make sure it fuels us with excitement too," he said.

 

The game had its detractors as the result of some Welsh players not being released by their clubs. It was outside the international window, but they had known that for nine months, he said. Media comments had focused on that, but it was nothing new when touring in the north.

 

"There wouldn't be a Test week up here without people knocking the game, or talking about the haka, or doing something like that, so it is business as normal in a certain sense.

 

 

"But underneath that I think there is massive excitement for this game. I'm sure whoever is out on the park for them will play with a lot of passion and pride," he said.

 

Wales showed its depth to become Six Nations champions. It was always likely that some players wouldn't be released by clubs, so that wasn't a surprise, he said.

 

"Their preparation hasn't been affected by that because they've known that."

 

Wales did have a solid core upfront and would look to pressure the All Blacks through that, he said.

 

"They've got a tight five that's largely intact, a lot of them are British Lions from the South African tour, so it will be no surprise to see them go to that part of the game. It's been a key strength of theirs. I think they'll put a lot of emphasis on their pack, and then you look at their backs, and they've still got a lot of experience and some young guys coming in.

 

"They play a lot of rugby, they play a high retention game and they demand patience from you and they've always been passionate about how they throw their bodies into the contact area, so it will be physical challenge," he said.

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