Lee Byrne Column: It's great that we're favourites – that's where we want to be

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The Independent Online

This is my first trip to Murrayfield with Wales and the one thing everyone has been talking about is that we are the favourites – not just to win this match but the whole Six Nations. And when I say everyone has been talking about it, I include the Wales players. We'll only know for certain just how well we've coped when the final whistle goes this afternoon, but we have tackled the subject head-on in the past few days.

Whenever Shaun Edwards, our defence coach, speaks, we listen. When he stood up in front of all the boys in the team room to talk to us about these expectations, it was a little bit different.

We all know that Shaun was right at the top in rugby league and part of a dominant team at Wigan that won loads of cups and leagues, and he gave us three main pointers.

The first is that egos can sometimes take over, which he couldn't see happening. The second is that you don't train as hard as you did before. We've worked as hard or even harder over the past two weeks as at any time before. And the third is commitment to the cause. I know my attitude won't change because we are highly rated by the bookies or the public or whoever.

I've had three weeks without playing due to my ankle knock [playing for the Ospreys] against Perpignan and I'm champing at the bit to get out there. I think it's great that Wales are being tagged as favourites and talked about as potential champions. That's exactly where we want to be. On all three points I feel we've got stronger, not weaker. Still, I could see why Shaun brought it up. I found it quite moving, and it did lift the boys. You could go back to the Ospreys losing to Saracens in the Heineken Cup last year. It was a couple of weeks after we'd put 30 points on them in the Millennium Stadium. We didn't change anything in the week before we played them again, we thought we could go in with the same game and win, and we came unstuck.

There was a change made to the Wales side in the run-up to today, because Gavin Henson picked up a calf injury. He'd been training with Jamie Roberts in the centres and they looked a solid combination, but it's not a problem. Tom Shanklin has taken Gav's place, and I have never seen Tom have a bad game for Wales.

We've got my Ospreys team-mate Andrew Bishop on the bench, who I'd say is the most consistent player in the Mag-ners League, with one of the best defensive games around. Having Shanks and Jamie, two big, strong centres, should mean nothing much will come through for me at full-back. At least that's what I'm hoping.

A lot of pundits wonder if Scotland and the other teams will have worked us out this year. The fact is that with the likes of Shane Williams and Leigh Halfpenny around, we don't always know what's going to happen ourselves. That's the way we like it. Shane can break from his own 22, we'll keep the ball on the park if we can and we aim to work harder than other teams.

Wales's record at Murrayfield isn't great, but it doesn't matter to me. None of the boys have talked about it. What we have touched on is the thousands of fans who go up there every couple of years. Right now there's people losing jobs and they are still prepared to spend their cash to support us. Mind you, they'll have a good weekend in Edinburgh too. If I wasn't in this privileged position of playing for Wales, I might be doing the same thing.

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