RUGBY legend Gerald Davies tips Wales to bounce back from their seven-match losing streak with a victory over Ireland at the Millennium Stadium next week.
The three-times Grand Slam winner thinks their poor run of form could act as a powerful incentive as they look to retain their Six Nations crown.
But former wing Davies, who won 46 caps and scored 20 tries for Wales between 1966 and 1978, believes England could well end up winning the tournament.
The 1971 Lions star predicts Wales’ clash with Stuart Lancaster’s men on the last day of the competition will end up being the tournament decider.
Davies, who lives near Usk, considers it important that Grand Slam holders Wales beat Ireland a week tomorrow – but is adamant it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they did lose.
“Wales are the defending champions and it all depends how they can cope with that pressure, and there is pressure on them because they are the team to beat,” he said.
“The first game will be important but not as panicky as some people are saying, ‘if we lose that game…’ “I don’t believe that is the case because there are still four more to play.
"It is an important match because you will be on the back foot if you lose and you have to be on your toes for the other games – but it doesn’t mean if we lose that all is lost.
“I think they will do well against Ireland but I think they will find it difficult on the road because they go three times to play away from home.
“That will be the difficult part before they come home to face England.”
Lions chairman Davies, who managed the 2009 tour of South Africa, considers England – buoyed by last month’s remarkable 38-21 hammering of New Zealand at Twickenham – as the tournament favourites and a team who will take some stopping.
“I think that last game will be some kind of championship decider because I think England will have a good season,” he said.
“I just feel that England will come into that game on a high.
“They are beginning to take shape I think, there is a good attitude there, they’ve got some good players there and I think they could very well have a good season.
“They give me the impression that they are on the move.
“It could be that England will come down looking for something and it may be that we will and I see that game as having some effect on the championship.”
After losing all three Tests on their summer tour of Australia and going down to shock defeats in the autumn to Argentina and Samoa before again being defeated by New Zealand and the Wallabies, Wales must stop the rot.
“They have got to bounce back from the autumn because they had a poor time and they’ve lost seven on the trot,” Davies said.
“Being Six Nations champions, being Grand Slam winners, I don’t think they’ll feel good by having lost seven.
“In other ways, that could be a big incentive for them.”