Jonathan Davies: Wales find the perfect mix to match the best

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The Independent Online

I feel like a fan again. For the first time in the 30 years I've been involved in rugby I am watching my country play with my heart as well as my head.

I love watching this Wales side play; the way they play and the joy with which they play. You can see the camaraderie flowing through every facet of their rugby. Mix this with confidence and momentum and you have the secret. Wales have all three, playing an irresistibly simple brand which is based on the belief, both collectively and individually, they won't make mistakes or crack first.

If Wales play like they did against Ireland they'll beat France tomorrow, I have no doubt. They've improved every game since that opening agoniser against South Africa and I expect this upward curve to continue.

Rhys Priestland's injury is a blow, but originally Warren Gatland intended James Hook to be his No 10. It was only because the young Scarlet performed so impressively that Gatland thought, "why rock the boat?" But to be honest, whoever steps into his boots is in for a bit of luxury.

The set piece is functioning well and there is so much "go forward" with runners like Toby Faletau, Jamie Roberts and the extraordinary George North, that the No 10 will be playing on the front foot. And Hook, with all his attacking abilities, should revel in that.

Plenty has been said about the influence the youngsters have had, with eight of the starting XV being aged 23 or under. I think it's important on a few counts. First off is what it's done for some of the older players. Look at the line-out. For so long the thorn in our side, Huw Bennett is actually throwing the ball in straight – and Luke Charteris is actually catching it. Amazing!

We've always known we could attack. Always. But for so long we've been trying to attack off bad ball and bad set piece. No longer it seems. The shackles are off.

Then there's the professionalism Sam Warburton and Co have instilled. The professional era arrived in 1995 which means these boys have never known the boozy old amateur days. They have been a credit to Wales, both on and off the pitch.

When you're away from home, as a group you react differently. They've gelled and reports I've heard from the camp have revealed there's none of the petty jealousies and destructive infighting of the past.

There are a few notes of concern. Hook's goal-kicking needs to be sharper than it was against South Africa, while the other stat that rings alarm bells is "the time spent in the opposition 22". Against the Boks, Samoa and Ireland we were outperformed in this area. Yes, our defence has been fantastic, but against the very good teams this could cost us.

But, in truth, the negatives are vastly outnumbered by the positives. There's an unwritten rule which says once you've worn a red jersey as a player you never do so as a supporter. I never have. But I'm telling you what. If we win this World Cup I'm going to don a Welsh shirt and go on a month's holiday to New Zealand. And keep it on the entire time. It's the sort of stupid thing a euphoric fan does, isn't it?

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