Looking back, last weekend was bitterly disappointing. We lost the opening game of the Six Nations Championship to a very good Ireland team. After our second half performance we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t turn up for the first 25 minutes and were down by 20 points after the first half an hour or so.
I think we showed in the second half what we could do. We just need a completely fearless approach and to go and play rugby from the outset. There’s no doubt we’ll try and put this right today in Paris.
Some of the world’s best sprinters have run on the track in the Stade de France and there’s no doubt that we have to come out of the starting blocks flying this time. We know the threats France possess. They’re a very dangerous team. They’re a team full of very good rugby players.
When you play at the Stade de France it’s right up there as one of the best experiences as an international rugby player. It’ll be a great occasion and we need to rise to it.
We just weren’t at the races for the first 25 minutes against Ireland. We were giving away penalty after penalty, making mistake after mistake. And when you give away four on the bounce you’re going to concede points.
Before we knew it we were 20 points down and effectively that’s the game gone already. We need to eliminate those mistakes, those costly errors.
It is difficult when you’re on a run of eight defeats but you have to treat it like any game of rugby. You can’t carry baggage from one week to the next. It’s the same within a game – you can’t carry the baggage of something that might happen in minute one through to minute 80.
It’s the same between weeks. Whatever happened last weekend will not affect the 80 minutes on the pitch this weekend. That’s hugely important for the mindset going into this game.
It’s XV versus XV. It’s a new Test match, a new +chance for us to show on the pitch what we can do, and we will give it our best shot.
It will be my 50th game for Wales, so I guess I’ll be first out on to the pitch. I just hope I don’t trip up.
It will be a very proud moment for myself and for my family and close friends but it’s only a number. The most important thing is that we win. I would take a Welsh success over celebrating my 50th cap any day.
When you think that Gareth Edwards was the first Welsh player to reach 50 caps and you look at the other players who have done it, of course it’s an accolade to be massively proud of. Gethin Jenkins will be winning his 96th cap today and I’ve also played with Stephen Jones, Martyn Williams and Gareth Thomas, who have all won 100 or more. These are guys that you look up to and try and emulate.
It’s in your mindset for every Test match that you treat it like your last, essentially. Every time you hear the anthem it is really emotional. Potentially it could be the last time you stand on the pitch and listen to it. You savour it every time – especially in the Millennium Stadium, which has a fantastic atmosphere. It’s a very special place to be.
In Paris we’ll have some changes to the team. Sam Warburton has got a bit of a stinger to his shoulder and has been pulled out on medical grounds. I don’t think you could ask for a better replacement to come in than Justin Tipuric.
He’s shown in his domestic form this season that he’s a very good rugby player. He’s a good link man. He’s a skilful player. He carries the ball really well. He gets clever lines and his defensive ability is there for all to see. He certainly is a very special player to come in and stake his claim to the Welsh seven jersey.
Ryan Jones has come into the back row too – a guy who’s immensely experienced, who’s captained his country more times than any other Welshman.
Experience is invaluable when you go to a place like Stade de France. Again, his form has been great this season too, in a pretty formidable Ospreys back row.
It’s the same with Richard Hibbard, who’s come in at hooker. He’s shown some great form with the Ospreys this year and now is his chance to shine on the biggest stage. We call him the ugly Dimitri Szarzewski, after the France hooker – or Dimitri Szarzewski is the sexy Hibbard. It will be good to see those two, with their flowing locks, going up against each other.
Zebo’s polished boot dazzles for Ireland
For non-Welsh people, I suppose it was good to see the Irish winger Simon Zebo produce that bit of skill with his left boot in the run-up to Ireland’s second try last Saturday. It’s the kind of thing you try in training but to see someone do it in the middle of a Test match is pretty amazing.
It was a nice bit of skill. He’s a good player. He’s quick and very clever. He obviously scored one try against us too with a bit of magic from last weekend.
Ireland-England will be a huge match tomorrow, with both teams having won on the opening weekend.
We know ourselves that Ireland is a tough place to go and win. England have got to go out there and play rugby. They can’t just defend and keep their game tight.
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