x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Shaun is sure to have us all fired up

Shaun Edwards is going to a very determined man this week. Saturday's game against England has a lot riding on it for all of us in the Welsh camp, especially Shaun.

Shaun Edwards is going to a very determined man this week. Saturday's game against England has a lot riding on it for all of us in the Welsh camp, especially Shaun [the Wales assistant coach]. He is English and has a lot to do with many of their players in his role as the coach of Wasps. I am sure he will be more motivated this week because he will want to get one up on the people he coaches every week. He has a lot of inside knowledge for our boys.

Having said that, I don't think he will bother giving me much advice. Phil Vickery, my opposite number, is one of his players at Wasps, but I don't think Shaun understands much about being a prop. It is outside his line of work. It is amazing to think that this will be the first time I have played against Vickery in a Test match. He has 69 England caps and the Scotland game was my 57th for Wales - yet we always seem to miss each other.

He has been injured when I have played against England, or vice versa. However, I have been watching him for a long time for Wasps, and he is a very strong scrummaging prop who is technically very good. He is a strong ball carrier, has been around a very long time, and is a World Cup winner. Put all that together and I am pretty sure I will be going up against one of the toughest opponents I have faced.

The intensity of this fixture is up there with the very best. It is a massive occasion, even more so for the supporters than the players. It is the biggest game, the one that everyone is talking about for weeks before. I cannot wait for the anthems to get started. That is one of the best parts of a Test match day for me. You feel so proud to represent your country and singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau [Land of My Fathers] really pumps us up.

Hearing the Welsh supporters singing while we were waiting to shake Princess Anne's hand on Sunday spurred us on. The Millennium Stadium is the most atmospheric ground in the world, especially when the roof is shut trapping all the noise inside. It gets you to the edge, but we know we cannot go over that point. We have to control our emotions, settle and get ready for kick-off. The most emotional we have been in recent memory was for the New Zealand game last autumn, when we stood up to their haka. We said before the game: "This is our ground, wait for them to do the haka then let them turn round." We did not disrespect them. We respected the traditions of the haka, we just wanted respect for the fact it was our ground.

It was pleasing the way the scrum went in the match against Scotland. We have not been that dominant up front in a Test match for a long while. They did lose players to injury quite early on but I thought we were on top before then anyway. What makes it more impressive is when you force a turnover and score from it. Sometimes you get a good scrum and you do not get much credit for it. Alun-Wyn Jones' try came from a turnover and just before half-time we turned over a scrum which was very important because they were on our line. More of that against England and we will all be happy.