- 2 Feb 07, 02:28 PM
Cardiff - Altitude training and an escape from the all-consuming Six Nations build-up with a stay in Tenerife was the meticulously planned schedule for this year’s Championship.
I’m not sure whether this would have worked for any of the squads, but my pre-tournament jolly didn’t quite maximise my effectiveness for the mighty tasks to come.
The Wales team announcement should have been done and dusted by the time I plunged back into work, with time to build up the battles before heading down to the Millennium Stadium for the Ireland game on Sunday. But nothing is ever that straightforward in Welsh rugby – certainly not when Gareth Thomas is involved.
There were suggestions that the magma chamber was filling before I flew to the volcanic isle, the remarkable pictures coming out of Toulouse indicating that trouble was brewing.
But I didn’t realise that Alfie had blown his top with a ferocity to rival anything pumped out by Mount Teide.
I’d like to claim that the Canary Islands were in the grip of Six Nations fever last week – but on reflection I think it was just me.
Tuning in to Sky News (hey, the apartment didn’t have BBC…) on Monday for the Wales team announcement, my own embers began to fire – I blame all the sulphur that riddles the local vino.
There was the lead sport story, Wilkinson recalled by England… But where was the Welsh team news?
Amid much cursing over the bias of the London media, I dashed to the award-winning, ever-reliable and generally fantastic BBC website to see the news that Wales’ announcement was delayed.
So, British Airways having just about managed to get me home, I was plunged straight into Thursday’s chaos – the team named – Alfie picked – Alfie banned – Alfie lambasted. What’s it all about?
But a Sunday game gives us just about enough time to get over the drama and muse on the important stuff.
A sensible tactic or another example of Jenkins’ over-caution? I’m not sure, but I feel that Duncan Jones is hard done by and the thought of a Welsh pack bullying Ireland out of a game seems hopeful.
The depleted three-quarters are the major concern, of course, and Jamie Robinson – discarded by former Wales coach Steve Hansen because he didn’t like his walk – will need to up his defensive game against O’Driscoll and D’Arcy.
I’m still scratching my head over why Dafydd James has been ignored, and would feel much happier with him at outside centre or on one of the flanks.
All logic tells me to expect a comfortable Ireland win, but there’s a sneaking optimism lurking in me that the men in green will fail to live up to their billing and that a Wales victory is looming.
It could be delusion, but I’ll be blogging from the stadium on Sunday so you can ridicule me to your heart’s content then.