Former Wales great Steve Fenwick believes New Zealand are a fading force and that Wales should have no fears when they head to the World Cup.
The Seventies Grand Slam centre is backing Warren Gatland’s side to lift the trophy for the first time on the back of their current unbeaten record.
Fenwick – who was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame’s Roll of Honour at Cardiff City Stadium last week – thinks Wales’ chances have improved because the relative gap between the All Blacks and the rest has narrowed.
“The reality is New Zealand have come back from the head of the pack,” said Fenwick.
“They are now a lot closer to the likes of Wales, Ireland and England than they have been in the past.
“For the first time in a long time the World Cup really is up for grabs. I believe Wales can win it.”
Fenwick became the 23rd Welsh rugby union player to join the most exclusive list in Welsh sport and the former Bridgend centre is not alone among them in thinking this could be Wales’ year.
Former Wales prop Graham Price is another ‘believer’ when it comes to the possibility of Gatland’s Welsh side living up to their 2019 ranking as the No. 2 side by sealing global glory in Japan.
Price won only once in 10 Tests against the All Blacks with Wales and the British & Irish Lions. Wales haven’t beaten the southern hemisphere giants since 1953, but the Pontypool front row legend believes all that could change if they meet in the final.
“I think New Zealand have gone off the boil a bit. They are still a fantastic team, but Wales are in a good position,” claimed Price.
“We are in with a real chance at the World Cup. Wales have this way of winning at all costs and we seem to have got into a habit of doing it, too.
“Hopefully, we won’t have too many injuries in the build-up to the tournament like we did in 2015.”