Alun Wyn Jones will win his 149th cap for his country when he leads Wales out against New Zealand at the Principality Stadium.
Here are the thoughts of the Wales and Lions captain on the challenge which lies ahead for Wayne Pivac's side.
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953. Can the hoodoo finally be broken?
Question: You are without a lot of players for various reasons. As captain of a team in that situation, with backs to the wall, what’s your rallying cry?
Alun Wyn Jones: It’s funny. The pressure is always on when you play for Wales, with the level of expectation that’s on us, particularly after the spell we have had in recent years.
But ultimately it’s an opportunity for a lot of the guys.
They know more players are going to come back into the squad and back from injury in due course. It’s a chance for a lot of people to put their hand up and there is probably no bigger game to do that than the first one we’ve got.
Q: What would you say to any suggestions that this fixture is being devalued because it’s outside the Test window?
AWJ: We’re the ones that have been selected to play. It’s outside the window, so it’s probably a question for someone who’s a bit higher up the tree than myself. When you get an opportunity to put the red jersey on, you’ll take it.
I’m sure the guys who can’t be selected are hugely disappointed, but they’ll want to make a huge impact when they come back for the following fixtures.
Q: A lot has been said about the fact you haven’t beaten New Zealand since 1953. Does that have an effect mentally when you are up against a team you haven’t beaten for so long?
AWJ: Funnily enough, it hasn’t been said until you asked that question!
I am aware of the stats and the record, but it’s one of those things. We probably don’t get bogged down with those things reinforced. We are well aware of the history of the fixture and the quality of players New Zealand always have.
Obviously the odds are stacked against us and I will leave those people deal with the odds. But our focus has been in performance and building on the Six Nations and the opportunity the guys had in the summer.
That needs to be our focus, the rugby first and foremost. If we get that right I know we are going to be in a decent position.
We’ve got a lot of guys that haven’t played against New Zealand and there is a full house.
Q: What would a win over the All Blacks do for the side?
AWJ: I don’t think it’s just New Zealand. There’s no Lions or anything ahead now, it’s the start of everyone’s two-year cycle leading up to the World Cup. There’s a lot of teams and a lot of rugby to go under the bridge, and if we hang our hat on one win in all those games to come it’s a dangerous thing.
Obviously we’re going out there to win. I’ve tried on many occasions, and will try again on the weekend. I feel we’ve got a squad that can go out there and present something we haven’t presented before. What will come will come.
Q: You’ve not had any games together to get up to speed, so how tough is it to go straight in against New Zealand, who have been together a while?
AWJ : We find ourselves coming off the back of the early part of the domestic season. We are obviously aware of the run they have had. But we are fortunate to have had two weeks together to do as much as we can.
It’s always an ask first one out, but we have done all we can in training. We had a relatively heavy week last week, but we enjoyed it all the same and the coaches have been clear in what they want from us
Q: Does the fact that the World Cup is just two years away narrow the focus?
AWJ: Yeah, obviously the domestic game will be the domestic game, fitness and selection things will be things the coaches have to deal with, but for a player in the fold it's essentially, excluding this campaign, four campaigns then a World Cup.
Two Six Nations, a summer and an autumn, then into a World Cup, so depending on your age and experience - some will say “it’s miles away” - not really.
It’s not necessarily on the door-step but, in sport, time turns round really quickly, so you have to be aware it’s the start of the cycle. I know that’s a contradiction in terms but you have to be aware as it’ll be here before we know it.
You would have to ask Wayne and he would tell you the core KPIs he is looking at. From a player’s perspective, Wales is always questioned about strength in depth and having players in certain positions.
I think Wayne has grabbed that bull by the horns. The fact he has capped so many players in autumns and summers in particular means he is setting his scene with player availability and the number at his disposal.
Q: Is it tactically easier now when you come into camp in terms of picking up where you left off?
AWJ: I would say so. When change happens you don’t get the click of the fingers and it happens automatically. We are still aware of our last autumn which was hugely disappointing.
We won a Championship and missed out on a Grand Slam. In ways we have progressed. There are still things we need to address as there always will be. You don’t want to get too far ahead because we know there is always something to improve on. The Six Nations was decent and probably the amount of players available now is pleasing to Wayne.
Obviously being outside the window it’s a bit frustrating that we can’t have everyone but it is what it is.
Q: You have got a heck of a fixture schedule coming up. What would you like to see Wales do in the next month or so?
AWJ: Obviously we want to win. It comes with the performance as well. Against France, at the end of the Six Nations, other than the result, we probably had one of the most rounded performances up front and we used the ball. If we can package a performance somewhere near that from the start and build on that, I am sure we will get the results that we want.
Q: How excited are you and the rest of the playing group to have a full house at the Principality Stadium again?
AWJ: I have been involved in a few games there and they are always special occasions.
To have the fans back is going to be very special for a lot of us. We are relishing getting back to semi-normality with a full house.
Q: Whoever gets the No. 10 shirt against New Zealand - Gareth Anscombe or Rhys Priestland - it’s going to be a great story, isn’t it?
AWJ: Yeah, hugely. Credit to both guys. They have been in the jersey and had a spell out for different reasons and gone the long way round. To see them back in the fold is great.
They have shown strength of character foremost, but to have players of that quality vying for that position can only bode well for the squad and our performances.
Q: How impressed have you been by Gareth Anscombe’s mental resilience given what he’s had to go through to get back?
AWJ: The length of time out and the setbacks he has had along the way, it’s credit to him and what he’s put in. He will probably say himself he has been through a few dark periods, coming close to return and having setbacks here and there.
I was fortunate enough to train with him towards the end of last season and this season. Coming back in, he’s still got the fight and desire and, if anything, probably more so because he’s had that time away from the game.
To see him back in the fold and what he gives to the squad, it’s huge. Those characteristics you see in a player who has been through so much have brought a lot of determination and character from other people around him.
When someone comes back from adversity or a long period out and you can see their confidence and energy growing, a smile back on their face, that’s really important to a squad.
You can feel like you are on an island when you get an injury. To see the fight and bite he has got, calling people and holding them to account in training, that is when you know someone has got the foot back in the door and they are ready to have a crack.
He has been showing and displaying that for the Ospreys and since we’ve been back in camp.
Q: How are you feeling after your shoulder issues over the summer?
AWJ: Good, to be honest with you. I have been well looked after by the combination of Ospreys and Wales. How they have set my plan up has really helped me and I am looking forward.
It’s always the same post Lions tour, probably more so than after a World Cup, the window for your pre-season gets shorter for obvious reasons.
I’ve gone in a bit earlier, been looked after by the S&C team at the Ospreys to make sure I’m up to speed. I went back into the fold straight away rugby wise which isn’t a bad thing. I probably could’ve done with more time off with the family, but I’m excited to be back in the fold to attack the autumn.