'Without experience, we don't know how we are going to perform' - Jones excited for New Zealand test

Wales clinched a dramatic opening World Cup victory over Scotland
©World Rugby

Wales centre Hannah Jones is relishing the opportunity to face "Test match animals" New Zealand in their second game of the World Cup in Auckland on Sunday.

Ioan Cunningham's side began their campaign with a last-gasp 18-15 win over Scotland, with scrum-half Keria Bevan landing an 84th-minute penalty to secure the victory.

The success leaves Wales in a good position to potentially claim a qualifying spot for the knockout stages as one of the two best third-place teams, with the Black Ferns and Australia favourites to progress from Pool A.

While the odds are seemingly stacked against Jones and her team-mates going into their next clash against the world champions, she believes it is this sort of occasion which can only help Wales develop as a Test nation.

"To be the best, you have to play against the best so like we said, we've talked about Test match animals and this is what it is about in front of these crowds," Jones, who captained Wales against Scotland, told TRU.  "Without experience and without trying it out, we don't know how we are going to perform."

Earlier this year, the WRU introduced professional contracts for their women's team and having finished third in the 2022 Six Nations and opened their World Cup account with a victory over Scotland, Jones is pleased with the progress Wales are continuing to make.

"We are on a journey," said Jones. "We are definitely growing as a squad and having full-time contracts has definitely helped performances. We had a lot of time to think about this game [Scotland] so we are just really happy with the outcome. We knew it was a must-win game. We left it quite late in the end, but a win is a win. The morale in the group is really positive at the moment so hopefully we can have a brilliant week of training and prep now and bring it into the weekend."

Jones revealed she went through "every kind of emotion" last weekend as Wales snatched the win at the death in Whangarei, but now all the attention is on New Zealand.

The Black Ferns were rattled by Australia in the first half of their opener but showed their quality in the second 40 to eventually run away with a 41-17 triumph.

The game was played in front of a record crowd at Eden Park and with Wales heading to Auckland this weekend, Jones is hoping for a similar atmosphere at the Waitakere Stadium.

"We are just really excited to have a big crowd there," she added. "We all have a lot of family over here as well. We had a big area in the crowd, a sea of red we call it, against Scotland. It was really nice to see them and we will have that support again now this weekend."

If Wales are to give their following something to cheer about on Sunday against the host nation, they will need to improve their discipline. They conceded 18 penalties and two yellow cards against Scotland and Wales boss Cunningham knows his side will be punished if they don't tidy up this area of their game.

"When they [New Zealand] are on the front foot, they play with speed don't they?" Cunningham said. "They are powerful, they look to run at holes and get their hands away. They bring their wingers in a lot off their touchline. They [Portia Woodman and Ruby Tui] are definitely ex-factor players for them.

"They rely heavily on their wingers to give them go-forward so we are going to have to be super sharp defensively and also be on the right side of the penalty count because they play from everywhere. They don't tend to kick as much. They will play first from deep and that is something that we have got to be aware of."