Wales coach Mike Ruddock remains in confident mood despite losing six Lions from his plans for Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown with the All Blacks.
Ruddock's RBS 6 Nations champions are seriously weakened as they face their first big test since defeating Ireland last season and ending a 27-year wait to savour Grand Slam glory.
Gavin Henson, Tom Shanklin, Dwayne Peel, Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones are all injured, while Martyn Williams was not considered following the death of his mother.
Cardiff Blues scrum-half Mike Phillips has beaten Gareth Cooper in the race to replace Peel, while there is also a largely untried centre pairing of Mark Taylor and Ceri Sweeney, with experienced Newcastle skipper Colin Charvis returning in a re-jigged back-row alongside Jonathan Thomas and Michael Owen.
Uncapped Worcester prop Chris Horsman, who only completed a residency period to qualify for Wales in September, is among the substitutes together with fellow Test rookie Lee Byrne, the Llanelli Scarlets full-back.
Ruddock, though, remains upbeat about Wales' chances of recording a first victory over New Zealand since 1953.
''Obviously, we are pleased to welcome a number of our Grand Slam-winning side back into the squad from Lions duty, and where we do have injuries we have been able to replace individuals from a position of strength,'' said Ruddock.
''Mike (Phillips) was a valued member of our squad during the Six Nations last season when Gareth Cooper was out injured and he has earned a place in the starting line-up.
''That is based on those performances and the form he showed on tour in North America during the summer and for Cardiff Blues in recent matches.
''Gareth (Cooper) is a great player, but he is returning from ankle surgery and therefore hasn't played much rugby recently, whereas Mike has been an ever-present for the Blues and has very much played himself into the side.''
Gareth Thomas, meanwhile, returns to captain his country after being injured halfway through last season's RBS 6 Nations campaign, winning an 84th cap.
It will take a Herculean effort for Wales to win the centenary Test against New Zealand, given the absence of such key players as Peel, Henson, Jenkins and Jones.
But Ruddock is relishing the prospect of getting to grips with a side which smashed Sir Clive Woodward's Lions during the summer and then went on to become Tri-Nations champions.
And Wales also have the incentive of trying to avenge last November's agonising 26-25 defeat against New Zealand in Cardiff.
''We still remember the clash with New Zealand last November. It was a magnificent match, and one we still believe we should have won,'' added Ruddock.
''Add to that the history of 100 years of fixtures between Wales and New Zealand, and we are looking forward to the kind of game that will hopefully still be talked about in
another 100 years.
''We have been talking about five steps to victory this week - mind-set, physicality, homework, opportunity and impact.
''New Zealand had a great escape last year and we are still kicking ourselves that we didn't win, so our mind-set is to front up and really nail this one down.
''We have done our homework and know which areas we want to attack, and we will make sure we take our opportunities.
''We also want to make sure our game plan has an impact on the opposition, cutting down time and space on their attack, and imposing our game plan.''
Wales team to play New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday:
G Thomas (Toulouse, capt); K Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Taylor (Sale Sharks), C Sweeney (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne), M Phillips (Cardiff Blues); D Jones (Ospreys), M Davies (Gloucester), A Jones (Ospreys), B Cockbain (Ospreys), R Sidoli (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), C Charvis (Newcastle), M Owen (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: R Thomas (Cardiff Blues), C Horsman (Worcester), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues), G Cooper (Newport Gwent Dragons), N Robinson (Cardiff Blues), L Byrne (Llanelli Scarlets).