The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
Their second row is injury ravaged while the front row and back row is also depleted, most significantly by Dan Lydiate – last year’s player of the tournament.
The flow of top players moving abroad is getting stronger while Welsh struggles in the European competitions have continued apace this season.
Wales have lost seven games in a row and Warren Gatland, the man that led them to the World Cup semi-final in 2011 and a third Grand Slam in eight years last year is away on British & Irish Lions duty.
The last of those seven defeats was a heart-wrenching 14-12 injury time loss to Australia – seemingly the umpteenth time Wales have lost to the Wallabies by a whisker.
But the 24-year-old flanker insists all fear of failure has been banished from the camp, claiming all can be forgotten if they can get off to a winning start against Ireland.
“It’s a pretty similar squad to the guys who were there 12 months ago, 18 months ago at the World Cup and the Six Nations and you don’t become a good team overnight just like you don’t become a bad team,” he said.
“And the players know that now. We played with a lot more confidence towards the end of last year and that’s the biggest lesson, to back our ability and play with confidence.
“We’ve got the ability in our squad to play well and win another Six Nations, there’s no doubt.
“People might pick on the regions or the lack of wins but as a squad everybody is in a good place mentally and physically and looking forward to kicking things off.
“We know from last year how important it is to win your first game. When you’re training two or three weeks in and you’ve won your first couple of games it’s a lot easier.
“We’ve got three games on the road after the first one which is difficult and then we finish off with another game at home again.
“It will be quite a big gap between our two home games and home advantage is very important to us so we will make the most of having the first game at home.
“You want to win every game you play but I don’t think there’s a lack of confidence in the squad. It wasn’t long ago we were playing some great rugby and we’ve had some close matches, particularly against Australia in the autumn.
“It’s not all and doom gloom, we’re really happy going into this tournament and we’ve got a very good squad.”
While Wales have struggled since winning last year’s RBS 6 Nations, Warburton has also seen his star fade.
Not so long ago he was an odds-on favourite to skipper the Lions this summer in Australia but after a loss of form and the emergence of fellow Welshman Justin Tipuric as a rival openside, there are no guarantees Warburton will be on the plane Down Under.
But Warburton is only too aware his form for Wales will look after his Lions selection.
He added: “From a Welsh perspective it’s just important that we get back to winning ways and if you look after your own performance individually then the Lions are looked after elsewhere.
“We don’t have control over that though and we can only focus on what we do have control over and that’s making sure that Wales win against Ireland and we have another successful campaign.”