Playing England on a Friday night in Cardiff is going to be a bit of a novelty. It’s going to be a big night, especially because it’s England, and it’s a huge game for both sides. Whoever wins that game will kick on and do well in the Six Nations.
Winning the first game is so important because it gives you huge confidence. It’s a massive boost and once you get momentum anything can happen. We were disappointed with our results in the autumn because we didn’t win a game, but when you look at our performances there’s a lot we can take out of it. We’ll go into that game with confidence, as will England despite their defeat to South Africa.
We need to be more clinical. Against South Africa we were 20-9 up but didn’t turn the screw and finish off the game. We need to be more composed at the crucial moments. We’ll learn from things like that going into the Six Nations. We’re not far off being a good side and winning games.
Our set-piece was outstanding in the autumn, but the Australia Test showed that you can’t just have a strong scrum, you need an overall game to win matches. We’ve got really dangerous runners and that part of our game wasn’t where we wanted it to be, so we need to work on that.
England will have a strong set-piece as well and they’re a dangerous side with guys like Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Toby Flood. Up front, too, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Lewis Moody thrive on an open game. We should be evenly matched so hopefully it will be a cracker.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about Gavin Henson and I won’t be surprised to see him in the Six Nations squad. We all know what a world-class player he is and his record speaks for itself; when he’s played we’ve been successful. I’ve no issues at all with him coming back into the squad. The boys are looking forward to having him back, especially as he’s left himself open to a lot of ribbing after doing Strictly Come Dancing! We’ve not got ridiculous playing numbers so we need players of Gav’s quality fit and playing to strengthen the Wales squad. It’ll push everybody to keep their spots.
I’m being pushed myself by Sam Warburton. He’s a special player and a top bloke. He always wants to learn and is the ultimate professional. While we’re obviously disappointed if we’re not picked, there’s no bitterness. That’s the way sport is and we push each other. It keeps you on your toes and we need that in every position.
To mark the new year, I’m going to pick three Welsh players to watch in 2011. Toby Faletau trained with Wales in the autumn and has all the skills. He’s quick, powerful and a great ball-handler.
Lloyd Williams has really impressed me at the Blues this season. He’s a class act at scrum-half and isn’t overawed by anything. He’s definitely on the Wales radar.