After a terrible tournament last season, Wales will be looking for a vastly improved performance in the 2004 RBS 6 Nations and I'm expecting far more from Steve Hansen's side over the next two months.
In truth, the 2003 competition was as bad as it could possibly get for the Welsh, and it will be a massive disappointment if we finish bottom again after an entertaining performance at the World Cup.
Wales have the benefit of three fixtures at home, which is important, and I think the opening match against Scotland in Cardiff could be crucial for both sides. It will really set the tone for the rest of the tournament, and although it is the type of fixture Wales should win, they have come unstuck during similar games in the past.
But the games at the Millennium Stadium are the ones which Wales must win. England at Twickenham will probably prove beyond Hansen's squad, but I still expect us to be competitive.
Even against the bigger teams, we should be able to put doubt in their minds as we did against England and New Zealand during the World Cup. Those two matches were the best performances by a Welsh team for many years and while both games ended in defeat, it showed what a difference it makes to play without pressure.
During the pool stages in Australia the anxiety among the Welsh squad was palpable because they knew they were expected to reach the quarter finals, but they should take confidence from the way they competed against the competition's favourites.
Hansen has given the majority of his World Cup squad another chance in the RBS 6 Nations and he is now in the unusual position of having genuine competition for places. The fact that Llanelli full-back Barry Davies is not in the squad shows a certain strength in depth. He, to my mind, is the glaring omission.
Hansen has also stuck with Colin Charvis as his captain. It seems strange to me that you can have a captain who plays in the French Second Division, and I don't think it's ideal. But until you have someone else sticking their hand up for the job then there is not really an alternative, and Hansen does like to err on the side of caution.
That Hansen is stepping down as coach after the RBS 6 Nations should not be an issue for the players. They are professionals who know that this is their best opportunity to impress the new coach when an appointment is made. They must remember that they are playing for their futures and, equally importantly, their country.
Of course these situations are unsettling but I would hope that the management make sure it has no bearing on Wales' success in the competition. I believe third place is the least we should be aiming for because there is plenty to prove after last year.
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.