Jamie Roberts: Here's hoping weather plays ball at Murrayfield so we can strut our stuff
Millennium Eye: Scotland are a physical team with a lot of powerful ball carriers
Friday 08 March 2013
Coming to Edinburgh for the Six Nations is one of the great trips – the Welsh fans love it and so do the players – now all we need is for the weather to play ball. For the last game in Rome we were desperate to go out there and play some rugby only to wake up on the day of the game and find it hammering down.
That meant a rethink to our game plan – conditions dictate everything in rugby. So this morning it will be out of bed and open the curtains to check the weather. We are desperate as a backline for the opportunity to express ourselves but the conditions may take that out of our hands. In Rome we played a completely different game to what we had been planning all week – the weather had been good; then we had to sit down on the morning of the game and alter our gameplan.
A lot of that switch comes down to the half-backs. I thought they were great in Rome in the way they played territory and earned field position from which we took our opportunities. We have planned to play a certain way this week but that could all change this morning if the rain is hammering down – it will be back to a territory dominated game.
In Rome it was like playing with a bar of soap and to win the game you have to do certain basic things right. We pulled through it well – our forwards were outstanding and as a backline it was a case of chasing kicks, making tackles and the odd carry.
Whatever type of match the conditions dictate, nothing can downplay the importance of the game for both us and the Scots. This is where you want to be as a rugby player. We have spoken in the squad this week that the Championship starts now – it's effectively knockout rugby from here, like playing in the semi-final and final of the FA Cup.
We flew up on Thursday, had our last training session in Edinburgh this morning and then had our team meetings last night. In between training and the meetings a few of us took a walk around the city – it's good to get out, have a coffee, have a look around because I don't like to focus too much on the match until the day itself. You can wear yourself out with worry. For your first couple of caps it really is sleepless nights but with experience comes the ability to switch away from the game until it comes to this morning.
My first cap was against Scotland and so far I have not ended up on the losing side against them. I really enjoy playing here on international days. There are two Murrayfields. When you come up here for your club and play in front of about 2,000 people it's quite hard to get yourself going. It makes for a strange atmosphere – we have something similar with the Blues at Cardiff City stadium when there are acres of empty seats – and then you come here on international days and it's simply awesome – when the bagpipes start for Flower of Scotland it's special.
The atmosphere is great and after Scotland's back-to-back wins here against Italy and Ireland it is guaranteed to be up there again. The boys are really looking forward to it – big match, big atmosphere and plenty hanging on the result.
Scotland are a physical team with a lot of powerful ball-carriers. That's the first challenge for us, stop their go-to men, guys like Tim Visser, Johnnie Beattie, Richie Gray, the ones who will look to get them on the front foot. We need to muscle up on those guys. They have steppers too – like Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg, who can find space and create problems. But that all comes from being on the front foot and we need to sort that front-foot ball first and foremost.
You can only respect Scotland as a team after what they did two weeks ago, losing territory and possession but still beating Ireland. That is the sign of a good team and their defence was admirable. We have done our homework this week. In these games you are only going to get two or three opportunities to score tries and if you don't take them you pay for it. Ireland learnt that painfully at Murrayfield two weeks ago. We do a lot of work as a backline in finishing tries and it is imperative to be clinical.
Rob Howley has chosen a XV with plenty of caps with Alun Wyn Jones back and Sam Warburton too. At Test level experience does count – it is a brutal game in which there is less time to think than at club level. There is a lot of experience starting to develop across the backline as well. Dan Biggar has done very well in the last few weeks at No 10 and the continuity of selection is great – it gives us confidence as a backline.
Rob is trusting us. It has just been a bit disappointing that we have not had the conditions to express ourselves. We have definitely not shown yet in this Championship what we are capable of.
Jamie Roberts, Wales centre, launched Guinness Class at Twickenham stadium. For more information on how you can win a trip on a luxury private jet to an RBS Six Nations game for you and your mates, visit: facebook.com/GuinnessGB
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