Gareth Roberts' Tournament preview
How much added pressure is on the squad after their runaway success in securing the Grand Slam last year?
The pressure is on without a doubt, especially if we look back at the 2005 Grand Slam, where they lost the tournament and the coach, Mike Ruddock, the following season. But I don't see Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley allowing history to repeat itself. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Wales are being touted as the tournament favourites for the first time that I can remember. There's no doubt that this will only add to the pressure.
Is the competition within the squad for places healthy for their future success?
Within the Welsh squad, there is a highly competitive nature with all of the players as they are all raising the bar and setting standards for themselves. It's really healthy to have this level of competition - not one player is guaranteed to play. Gatland only chooses players who are playing well at that point in time - Leigh Halfpenny and Andy Powell are primary examples of this during the autumn series.
What about the battle of the scrum-half?
With Mike Phillips back from injury, there are three highly qualified scrum halves vying for the coveted number 9 shirt. This is one of the highly contested battles and the coaching team will have a big decision on who plays. Gareth Cooper was handed the opportunity to shine in the autumn series and he'll be looking to reclaim the shirt, while Mike Phillips has only enjoyed competitive action since Christmas - will his lack of game time effect his chances? And let's not forget Dwayne Peel who will no doubt be desperate to play in the competition.
What do Warren Gatland and his team of coaches have to do to maintain and raise their standards?
They will definitely need the competitive nature within the squad to continue - not one position is safe. I think that the players need to set targets for themselves and continue to present performances of a high standard. They do need to push those standards further to be able to compete against the Southern Hemisphere teams. The squad managed to do this against Australia in the autumn series, but their unnecessary errors during the South Africa game handed the victory to the Springboks on a plate. This was a golden opportunity for us to beat the World Champions.
Which players do you think will shine during the tournament?
Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Gavin Henson wearing a red shirt again. I saw him play over the Christmas period and I was very impressed with his current form - he showed great attitude and spirit and he took his rugby seriously. But the big questions is - where do you play him? Do you use him as full-back? At the moment Lee Byrne has cemented his place at number 15. What about in midfield? A partnership between Henson and Jamie Roberts would be an exciting one in my opinion.
The full-back from Gorseinon came into the senior Welsh squad in the autumn because he was playing very well at the time. He deserved his place without a doubt. The challenge now is to sustain the standard. Halfpenny has already proven that he can adapt well to international rugby on the big stage and to any situation that is thrown at him on the pitch, albeit playing away from his preferred position or as a stand-in for Byrne. We need to remember that Halfpenny was playing in the Principality Premiership last season and his development since then has been great, and mirrors that of Jamie Roberts a year earlier.
The back row
There is a battle within the back row at the moment of in-form players, with Ryan Jones and Jonathan Thomas (both Ospreys) and Andy Powell and Martyn Williams (both Cardiff Blues) all vying for positions. I have to admit that the captain Ryan Jones had a disappointing autumn series, but has since proven his worth in the Ospreys' Christmas games by raising the standards again.
Will it be difficult to go to Murrayfield in the first test?
Definitely. We have to remember that Scotland are improving all the time and they came close to causing an upset against South Africa in their autumn clash. Their scrum-half, Mike Blair, is a brilliant player and leader and he and the rest of the team will look to disappoint those who will travel to Edinburgh.