On the eve of this Six Nations it feels like everybody has already written Wales off. It reminds me of 2008: it was all doom and gloom then too, until we beat England at Twickenham on the opening weekend.
A lot of the Wales players will be coming into this tournament looking for a fresh start. Cardiff beat Leinster in the United Rugby Championship last week but in European competition the Welsh regions have lost 11 games out of 11.
Our tight five is a bit of a worry, but I think our back-row will be more than fine. Dan Biggar will easily pull the ropes at No10 and I like the look of Tomos Williams inside him at No9.
We have an electric starting back three with a good level of depth but I am slightly concerned about the centre options.
Wales undoubtedly have gems in our squad, and you don’t need to look further than Louis Rees-Zammit to see that the future is bright. He scored a great solo effort for Gloucester last weekend.
But for me flanker Taine Basham is the rock star. He’s absolutely solid in his defence, really goes about his job well and I think he will be a British and Irish Lion. Injured Alun Wyn Jones is no spring chicken, so it’s about time Wales looked at who could succeed him as a dominant forward carrier.
The first game is always a bit of a leveller. Neither team will be as hot as they are towards the end of the championship and Wales won’t be favourites at all against Ireland. But they can definitely sneak a win.
When I watch rugby now I want to be entertained. I’m not going to lose any sleep over results anymore – I did that when I was a player. I want to see the game grow, and none of what we saw on last year’s Lions tour, which was dominated by kicking.
I don’t want to see Italy conceding 50 each week, either; uncompetitive matches stop being entertaining. It might be worth looking at how that works in the future.
The Six Nations is the one you watch growing up, and I have plenty of memories of Wales taking some big defeats when I was a kid.
But while that was tough it was still special: the family gathered around the TV, hearing fans bellow out the anthem. It was always a dream of mine to be a part of that and I can’t wait to watch it again this year.
|Wales’s player of the tournament||Taine Basham|