Justin Tipuric says that Wales must “bounce back up and crack on” as they prepare to end their World Cup campaign by tackling New Zealand.
Continue reading below…
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 30 successive Tests against them.
But the incentive is a third placed World Cup finish if they win, which would equal their best performance on a global stage for 32 years.
Friday’s clash in Tokyo is also Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s final game in charge following a 12-year reign highlighted by four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances.
“As a whole group it would be nice to finish on a high, especially against the All Blacks,” Wales flanker Tipuric said.
“We could have created history this weekend (by reaching a first World Cup final), but we can finish on a high by beating the All Blacks.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we have to bounce back up and crack on.
“To get another chance to play in that Welsh jersey and play against the All Blacks – one of the best teams in the world – and to have a chance of finishing third in the world isn’t a bad thing at the end of the day.”
Wales were undone by a Handre Pollard-inspired South Africa after he kicked 14 points, including a match-winning penalty four minutes from time.
It meant the Springboks ended a run of four defeats against Wales, reaching a third world final in the process.
“It’s tough to take, especially losing the way we did,” Tipuric added.
“It was one of those weird games, completely the opposite to Saturday’s semi-final. That was a lot of running rugby, and this one was so close that any bounce of the ball could have gone either way.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle up-front, and they came into the game with probably the best driving maul in the tournament.
“They are big men. That’s the strength of them, and they are not going to change their game-plan. Why would you?
“They’ve got such big men, that physical presence. They will play to their strengths. We knew it was going to be that type of game, a close game, and we were hoping to come out on the other side of it.
“I have played against them a few times, and you know every time you play South Africa you are aching for a few days after.
“They are so strong and powerful, and it’s a big set-piece game. There will be a few sore bodies now.”
Gatland is due to announce his team for the All Blacks clash on Wednesday, and changes seem certain.
If they are ruled out, then there are likely to be starts for Owen Lane – he only joined the squad last week as an injury replacement – and Dillon Lewis, while the likes of centre Owen Watkin, scrum-half Tomos Williams and lock Adam Beard could make strong claims to begin the match on the turf.
Warren Gatland reacts to Wales versus South Africa:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.