RUGBY pundit Eddie Butler predicts a big Welsh win in the third-round of the Six Nations tonight.
After a strong start to the tournament, Butler told The Cardiffian that Wales will “be very good this weekend” and will beat France by 12 to 15 points.
However, Les Bleus are confident on the back of two wins from two so we asked the ex-Wales captain what Gatland’s boys can do to stop the French side?
Butler predicts more of the same from Wales with a “full-on, up-front” game. He hopes that if Wales can dominate up-front, they can cut loose and start attacking through wider channels.
“The Welsh forwards think they can get the better of France. 20 years ago that would never have applied but nowadays the Welsh forwards can gain a significant advantage.”
However, this one-dimensional Welsh strategy has been under fire from many critics, who believe Wales lack attacking initiative.
Butler says Welsh players have become too comfortable in the system. “I do think the intent is there and yet it’s very difficult to tweak things.
“Players like the way things go. They feel in control of what they’re doing and when you suddenly ask them to do things differently, they struggle.
“But I would say that with one victory under their belts, Wales will be a little bit more prepared and should be able to push it a little bit.
“Nobody is trying to hold Wales back. They just need more confidence.”
Wales centre Jamie Roberts – famous for his brutal runs and midfield clashes – has made the perfect start to this year’s Six Nations with two man-of-the-match deserving performances.
But Jamie’s style fits into the often predictable ‘Gatland-ball’ attack strategy. Butler said: “Jamie’s not going to disappear. What Wales need to do is let him attack through the middle and then give the ball some width.
“I think we lack the confidence to take the next step. We’ll never get rid of Jamie but we want a Jamie plus.”
Butler was full of praise for Jamie Roberts’ central partner, Jonathan Davies, who he says plays well in space.
“They can do it. I have absolutely no reason to question their ability as a centre pairing. It’s an instinctive part of the Welsh game to like spaces,” he said.
Tonight’s showdown promises to be an exciting affair. France faced a media backlash following their blatant targeting of Ireland’s fly-half Jonathan Sexton in the second round of matches.
It is fairly safe to say that Dan Biggar will be a target for the French. But as Butler said: “They daren’t go down the illicit route again. They would have done if they hadn’t been exposed, but France have to be careful now and they know it.
“Biggar will have a hard game. But he’s as tough as they come. That’s part of the problem. Players these days are so tough that they think they can take it.
“I would like a bit more of a delicate flower in the Welsh squad – someone the player’s need to look after and wrap up so he can play a confident and tactical game.”
Watch Wales v France tonight live on BBC One Wales. Kick-off is at 8pm.