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‘We will play our hearts out’ - Elinor Snowsill

Elinor Snowsill insists Wales can summon the underdog spirit of past glories to keep themselves in the World Cup.

The Wales outside-half understands why few outside her own camp believe hosts New Zealand can be beaten in Saturday’s quarter-final in Whangarei.

The Black Ferns have already enjoyed a 56-12 victory over Wales in the pool stages and many of their fans believe the Kiwis are on a patriotic mission to take the trophy off England’s hands in the final.

But Snowsill says Wales are used to being written off, have nothing to lose, and can take inspiration from the fact that odds stacked against them have been demolished before, albeit on home soil.

“If we lose, it will be the last game we as a group play out here in New Zealand, so if that’s not a motivator, I don’t know what is,” says the 33-year-old, ahead of the last eight tie, which is live on S4C Clic and will be re-shown in full later in the day.

 “We will all play our hearts out and leave nothing out there.”

This is Snowsill’s fourth World Cup and the Bristol Bears player has a back catalogue that extends further than most.

It means that while she has the recent experiences of victory over Scotland in this tournament, as well as against the same opponents in this year’s Six Nations, along with Ireland, she can also recall the days when Wales shook up the world order.

In 2015, Wales beat England – a team now on a 28-match winning streak – while in 2016 it was France who felt the bite of the Welsh underdog.

“The 2015 win against England was a great result, but a lot of their stars had just left the 15-a-side game to go and plays Sevens,” she says.

“So, for me, the better result came the year after in 2016 when we beat France. That was their full team against our full team and we matched them physically, which was the big difference that day.

“We really stood up to them and knocked them backwards to hold them out. Then, we executed and scored when we had the opportunities.

“That is 100 per cent what we will need on Saturday. New Zealand are a very physical side, but again, if we match them, we will have to take our chances.”

Snowsill accepts that while Wales have shown moments of genuine control in all three of their games – against the Scots, the Black Ferns, and Australia, they are yet to put together a complete 80-minute performance – something which will be required if they are to produce the biggest shock result in their history.

“We know we have to pull out something that people haven’t seen yet.

“We have shown glimpses of it. Some of our attack has been really good at times, our set piece has been outstanding at times, and so has our defence.

“But now it all has to come together and we have to be able to do it consistently for the whole 80 minutes.

“It is all about belief. You can’t control what other people can do. You can only control what you can do and I’m confident I‘m going to go out there and give everything I’ve got.”

The psychology graduate, who will earn her 71st cap on Saturday, admits she is a big admirer of the New Zealand side, whose free-flowing style under coach Wayne Smith – such an influence on the All Blacks – is in sharp contrast to the Red Roses’ blunter reliance on power and territory.

“I really enjoy watching New Zealand play,” she admits.

“We are all used to watching the Six Nations teams play and it’s very much a territory game. It’s about kicking into the opponent’s half and then you play.

“But New Zealand will play from anywhere. The only kicks they do are attacking kicks to retrieve the ball, so it’s a very exciting brand of rugby to watch. They off-load so well and they play what they see, rather than have a set pattern of structure.

“It’s brilliant for the game because it challenges teams and maybe we will soon see other teams try and attack like that.”

Not that the holder of one of the WRU’s full-time contracts reckons it’s as straightforward for Wales as copying the Black Ferns’ style if they want to progress.

“I think we need to find our own way of playing, rather than emulate anyone else.

“We are quite good at open, broken play and we have smaller, more dynamic players. It suits a wider game, but we need to develop our kicking game as well.”

If head coach Ioan Cunningham and his team do bow out of the tournament this weekend, then Snowsill has no plans to retire or even rule out what would be an incredible fifth appearance at a World Cup in 2025.

“I haven’t made any decisions. People have told me they know when it was time to retire and I haven’t felt that yet.

“I think it would be a shame that after grinding for over a decade, trying to juggle work and rugby, to give it up nine months after receiving a professional contract.

“I am not near my potential yet or near my best, I know that. I am keen to see where that can go. The next World Cup is only three years away.”

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