We welcome Edinburgh and you all back to the Swansea.com Stadium as we resume our United Rugby Championship campaign this evening.
After the recent break due to Covid-19, it is good to have you back to support us and you have been missed. We play for each other and we play for our supporters.
The crowd have a big part to play in supporting the team and we have already seen that with the noise created during critical times during home games already this season.
The players feed off your support and we have always stated the aim of turning our home into a fortress. While we may not always come away with the spoils, you will always see the team give everything.
Edinburgh will be another big challenge for us. They are the league leaders of the URC and play a very expansive style of rugby, so we know they will be looking to stretch us defensively.
They will come to us full of confidence and we need to rise to the challenge they will pose us. We know we will have to produce a strong defensive performance, as we have done in previous games at home.
The performances we delivered against Ulster and Munster, and Racing 92, one of the very best teams in European rugby, is what we will need to produce today.
We know we need to grab hold of the game and impose our game on Edinburgh.
We will be without eight players who have been called up for the Wales Six Nations squad and that, of course, stretches our resources but gives others an opportunity.
There is an international overlap and all coaches talk about it and have to deal with it at this time of the season. It’s helpful that we won’t be playing games during the international window but there are still a lot of issues to factor in.
For example, Wales have pre-Six Nations camps, there are fallow weeks during the tournament, when we play but we don’t get the international players back due to the Covid bubble required at the moment.
Also, when players do return during the tournament, they are spilt between two rugby programmes and two game plans and that can be difficult for players.
You are asking them to switch between from one approach and environment to another within a week and back again. Then, you have to manage players returning from international windows, mentally and physically fatigued and that has to be factored in.
So, there are a lot of hidden costs and issues we have to manage during every international window, especially when we are playing competitive games around them.
There is no doubt we are being tested at the moment, with some international experience absent due to injury. We went to Sale, for example, with a depleted squad and in certain positions all the players who were fit and available were in the match day squad.
These are the challenges we face but this group of players, coaches and staff are resilient and we will roll up our sleeves and get on with it and the meet the challenges ahead.
Everybody knows we have made a very real commitment to homegrown players and growing our own. You would have seen Harri Deaves and Huw Sutton making their debuts last weekend.
Harri, in particular, had a made a good debut against Sale and proved what a tough man he is. He has been patient but took his opportunity. We will need to do the same against Edinburgh.
The team thank you for your continued support.