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Ability, attitude... and the next Shane Williams? The Welsh perspective on the Six Nations

Welsh rugby blogger Seb Greenwood believes Gatland’s side have got what it takes to go all the way.

Captain Sam Warburton will lead Wales into battle in Dublin on Sunday.
Captain Sam Warburton will lead Wales into battle in Dublin on Sunday.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

1. How are Wales shaping up this year?

Wales are looking good. All things considered we had a strong World Cup, despite a squad ravaged by injuries. Sadly we are still without Leigh Halfpenny, while Liam Williams has only got one game under his belt for the Scarlets, but other than that, we’ve named an experienced squad that has got the ability to win the tournament.

2. What will be considered a success for Warren Gatland over the next two months?

Winning the tournament. Simple as that really. I know that some bookies have had England down as the favourites, primarily because they’ve got Ireland and Wales at home, but really, Gatland should be aiming for the win. The Six Nations following the World Cup has been fruitful for us in the past, and I think the Welsh players and management will be disappointed with anything less than a win.

3. Who or what is your biggest concern in the Welsh team?

Can I have two? Firstly: fullback. With no Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams desperately short of match fitness, there is a concern over the 15 shirt. Some think Matthew Morgan should get it, but the Bristol back is a bit of a risk. Then again, so is Liam Williams.

Secondly, creativity. Although we did pretty well in the World Cup, the same inability to beat the Southern Hemisphere sides reared its ugly head. The fact that we didn’t score when Australia were down to 13 men and we were camped on their line beggars belief, and our inability to unlock defences in the traditional Welsh way is a big concern.

Wales Squad Announcement and Training Session "Welsh players and management will be disappointed with anything less than a win." Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

4. Who will be your key player this season?

Dan Biggar needs to have a big tournament, and I’d back him to the hilt to do so. He’ll be kicking the goals and charged with getting the Welsh backline firing. If he can excel at both, then Wales have a great chance of winning the whole thing.

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5. Which player, from any country, will be the surprise star of the tournament?

Call me biased, but I’m going for a Welshman. Those who’ve watched Matthew Morgan over the last few years will be well aware of his incredible running ability, but up until now he’s not been a fixture in the Welsh side. If he gets the nod at 15, he’s got the ability to really shock people – his pace is electric, and his sidestepping is reminiscent of another little bloke. You might have heard of him, he’s called Shane Williams.

6. How do you fancy your chances in the game against Ireland?

Tough to call. It’s always difficult going to the Aviva, and Joe Schmidt does seem to know what it takes to beat Wales. It’ll be a contrast of two styles, and my big concern is that Wales will get frustrated and start flinging the ball wide without earning the right to do so. It really is too close to call, but I’ll go for Wales by two.

7. And finally, who will win the Six Nations?

Wales, or Ireland. A lot has been made about Eddie Jones and the new England regime, but as we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It remains to be seen whether Jones has really got what it takes to coach a top northern hemisphere side like England, and my suspicion is that the Six Nations will be a very steep learning curve for him.

– Read more from Seb Greenwood on Twitter (@sebgreenwood11) or on LinkedIn

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