Personally I’m gutted for Shane after he hinted this might be his last Six Nations before retiring after the World Cup.
I’m sure he is disappointed he didn’t have the chance to walk out onto the pitch knowing it was his last game. I think it would have helped Wales as well, because it probably would have boosted the players to really turn out a good performance. But maybe if Wales have a good World Cup he might change his mind.
It is key for Wales to have Adam Jones back. Although he is not match fit I think it is going to be key to sure up the scrum. Craig Mitchell has done a great job, but it is good to see Adam return. He won’t have the match fitness he usually has, but if we can get fifty or sixty minutes out of him and then replace him with John Yapp and with Paul James switching to the tight head.
For me the game is going to be won in the first twenty minutes. The French are in a bit of turmoil at the minute and there is a lot of pressure on Marc Lievremont, so if Wales can get a good start, the French crowd will turn on their own team and that is when they’ll start panicking.
They won’t have the experienced players they have had in there previously, so I think if we can start well, the bigger chance we have of getting the victory.
It is hard to tell how George North will perform because it is still his first season. He had a great start to his international career against South Africa, but I think he was a little bit disappointing against Samoa. It is a difficult one to pre-guess, but it is a big challenge for him.
International games are all about winning rugby and you cannot underestimate the importance of winning games for your confidence, especially in a World Cup year. These victories will have made a massive difference to the squad in their self belief and metal toughness, which will help them with the game tomorrow. But they will need to lift their game against a team like France