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Byrne wants to emulate Ospreys’ success in NZ

Guinness PRO12 Editor

11 Jun 2010


Fresh from tasting Magners League glory last month, Ospreys full back Lee Byrne has set his sights on an historic international triumph.

Byrne was one of two try scorers in the Ospreys’ Grand Final win over Leinster a fortnight ago as the Welsh region became the first side to claim a hat-trick of Celtic crowns.

But instead of having time to bask in reflective glory, Byrne is about to take on one of the toughest challenges in world rugby.

Having narrowly lost out to South Africa last week, Byrne and his Wales team-mates have now arrived in New Zealand for a daunting two-Test series against the All Blacks.

And, with the Magners League success of the Ospreys and the Challenge Cup success of the Blues still in everyone’s minds, the recently turned 30-year-old insists he and his Welsh colleagues won’t be satisfied with anything other than a first-ever win on New Zealand soil next weekend.

“Warren (Gatland) gives us a lot of self-belief. We can go out there and win – I honestly believe that,” said Byrne ahead of the first Test in Dunedin a week on Saturday.

“We know we can compete – we have shown that in the last couple of years. But it’s a question of finishing sides off.
“We have to start being as clinical as the best teams in the world. When they put themselves in good positions, they come away with victories.

“Winning is the most important thing.”

Byrne’s comments are perhaps somewhat unsurprising when you consider the nature of Wales’ most-recent defeat.

Having opened up a 16-3 lead over the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday, Wales conceded 18 unanswered points to trail 21-16 early in the second half.

Things got even worse for Wales as the game progressed and even a late comeback couldn’t prevent them from letting what would have been only their second–ever win over South Africa slip from their grasp.

“It’s not often that you get a chance to beat the best sides in the southern hemisphere, so of course we are disappointed,” added Byrne.

“But in a weird way it’s good that we’re unhappy about losing to the World Champions. It shows that we are setting high standards.”

Those high standards will have to be stepped up a level if Wales are to achieve something they’ve never achieved before either on June 12 or the week after in Hamilton.

Wales have never triumphed against the host nation in the Land of the Long White Cloud and, despite the All Blacks missing a number of high-profile stars, Byrne is fully aware that Wales will have to be at their very best just to stay competitive.

“They’ve lost a lot of players to overseas, but any New Zealand team will be up there with the best in the world.

“You give them a sniff and they’ll take a try.

“We will have to be at the top of our game, otherwise there could be big scorelines.”