Justin Tipuric: Wales have nothing to lose
IF it is true that a glance in the direction of the coach will tell you much about the health of the team, then it is fair to assume Wales have monumental problems on their hands ahead of Saturday's Test against New Zealand.
Poor Warren Gatland is still hobbling around on crutches after his beach-house fall in the Bay of Plenty last Easter.
And his side are arguably in a worse state than their returning coach as they prepare for the ultimate test rugby can offer.
They haven't won in five games and have a casualty list that seems to lengthen by the week, with Richard Hibbard, Dan Biggar and Ian Evans joining the crocks during Friday's bruising encounter with Samoa.
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And now for the really bad news.
The All Blacks will arrive at the Millennium Stadium in form, not having lost in 19 games spread over 15 months, with 153 points piled up in their last three games against Six Nations sides.
In case anyone is any doubt, this lot do slaughter. Scotland, Argentina, Ireland, Canada and Japan have all gone for 50 points or more against them in the past 14 months, and they put 42 on Italy with a second team over the weekend.
But Wales are trying to be as positive as they can be under the circumstances.
"We have nothing to lose," said Justin Tipuric.
"We have to go out there, not give them an inch and get stuck in from the start.
"They are the best team in the world, but we have to look forward to the game.
"If we put in a good performance, or get a good result, everyone will forget about the past two weeks.
"It's going to be tough, but we have to work hard on the training pitch and do all we can to produce a good performance."
There is the added worry that Wales are in danger of dropping out of the top eight in the IRB's global rankings and so ending up in the third pot of seeds and a place in a pool of death at the 2015 World Cup.
But they will be facing a side who put 101 points on Samoa when they last faced them, in 2008.
All things considered, it's probably best to keep that stat away from the Welsh players as they build towards the weekend.
It was put to Tipuric that Wales needed to gain a win over the next fortnight, with the Wallabies in Cardiff a week after the All Blacks.
"We always set high standards in training and we want to win every match. If you can do it against New Zealand, that's the stuff of dreams," said Tipuric.
"But we'll stay grounded, work hard in training and see what happens.
"Will we play with more freedom? We have to think about the opposition as well. We don't want to give New Zealand too much space or we'll see what they can do. We saw that against Scotland.
"The key for us is to look at our own game and try to improve.
"We made too many basic mistakes against Samoa, like dropping the ball and not making sure we had enough numbers in the contact area.
"It's up to us to put those things right for the weekend."
How Wales could do with a character like Kahn Fotuali'i in their side, someone capable of rising to any challenge, never daunted by reputation.
The Ospreys scrum-half was outstanding in Samoa's victory over Wales, the perfect foil for his fired-up forwards with his combative nature and his ability to think for himself.
Not for him a slavish adherence to any game-plan.
Instead, Fotuali'i was able to adapt his as the match unfolded, playing what was in front of him and proving a fiery, unpredictable presence that Wales found hard to handle.
The former Canterbury Crusader knows many of the All Blacks well.
And, going against the grain, he doesn't buy into the idea that hell is coming the way of Wales in five days' time.
"I don't fear for Wales at all," said Fotuali'i.
"It is not going to be easy because New Zealand are in form and have some quality players, but no side is unbeatable.
"Wales have good players, massive support and they are at home. They have a chance, but they have to believe in themselves.
"I see them bouncing back. It won't be easy for New Zealand."
The Ospreys trio of Hibbard, Biggar and Ian Evans were being assessed today.