It’s feast or famine in Welsh rugby, and always has been.

The team is the focal point of Welsh society. When they do well, people go into work happy on a Monday morning. You understand that responsibility when you pull on the jersey: you’re not only representing yourself and your family, but an entire nation. How the Welsh team is doing is a big barometer of the country’s mood.

Against France, if Wales can perform for a prolonged period of time the way have in parts during this Championship, they could get just the result that would boost their confidence and cement the notion that this could end up being a very good team.

There are plenty of intriguing factors at play in this match. France defence coach Shaun Edwards coming back to Cardiff, where he experienced such success during his time with Wales; two teams in desperate need of a good win; whether it will be an arm-wrestle of a game, or if we’ll see two teams just go out there and play. The latter is hard to gauge.

Reassurance is what Wales need right now. I’m sure Warren Gatland and his coaching team will be telling the boys that they’re a good side, that these things take time, and that they’re learning from their mistakes. But it takes a good win against one of the top teams - even if France aren’t playing their best rugby at the moment, they’re always a good team - to bring that to reality. Their confidence would receive a huge boost.

We hadn’t beaten Australia for years, but once we finally did it in 2018, it gave us the confidence to do it again when we faced them in the World Cup the following year. The moment you get it over the line, you can start to familiarise yourself with what a big Test win feels like.

I know how it feels to be on a bad run of Test losses. We won the Grand Slam in 2012, then lost all eight games until we came up against France and beat them in 2013. It was a really testing time for us because we knew we weren’t a bad team, but we just couldn’t get the results we should have got. The losing was inescapable because there were constant reminders. You’d go down to the team room at the Vale and people would be watching the games back at different times throughout the day. You look forward to trying to switch off on a Wednesday, when you have the day off.

The benefit of this fixture being on a Sunday is that the boys won’t have gone back into training until Tuesday, so they would have had a long weekend. I hope that’s reinvigorated them a bit going into a huge home match against France.

What I loved about Shaun Edwards when he coached us was the passion he had for his players. You always felt he was trying to make you not just a better player, but a better person. You didn’t want to make a mistake because, as he always said, ‘If you miss a tackle, I miss a tackle’. You truly believed that because of the time he invested in you. He put you on the edge and it was a lot of hard work, but it was so much fun. The defensive system he employed meant you had to be extremely fit and work hard for each other, and there was so much reward from that.

France haven’t reached the giddy heights we’ve come to expect from them these past couple of years, with a lot of people pointing to the absence of Antoine Dupont as the primary factor. Now, I don’t like the notion that one man makes a team, but there is a lot of compelling evidence that would suggest that he does. Has this French team started believing all the press about them missing Dupont? That’s the only thing I can think of because they have so much talent, size and power, that it’s crazy to see the extent to which they’ve been struggling and not clicking. At the same time, it’s up to the next guy to take ownership of that number nine shirt in his absence.

The onus to perform shouldn’t just be on one person, albeit in this case, that one person is an incredible player.

I got an invaluable insight into the French psyche when it comes to rugby when I joined Clermont a decade ago. I loved it. It was a great experience for me to leave my comfort zone - everything I’d known since I was sixteen - to experience a different culture and way of thinking. Actually, it was several different cultures, since we had players from all over the world there. That meant we had a diverse viewpoint on how rugby should be played, and what values the game was built on in different parts of the world. You’d talk to Wesley Fofana about what he looks for in attack or defence, or Benson Stanley, a Kiwi, for his point of view. I learnt so much.

As for the French themselves, the passion they have for their national team is unbelievable. You hear it in the anthem when they sing it at home games. That emotion drives them. As a Welsh player, I tried to compartmentalise all that passion because, although it helped me get through the game, I still needed a clear head to know what was expected of me in my role. Whereas in France, the emotion is a much bigger driver.

I’m pleased to see my Scarlets teammate Joe Roberts getting his Championship debut in Wales’ midfield. In the weeks leading up to the tournament he’d started finding form, after working really hard in the summer and winning his first cap. He’s had a couple of serious knee injuries at a young age, so he’s had to learn to look after his body well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s got a great opportunity this weekend.

I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of happy Welsh people heading into work on Monday morning.