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Sweden and the X Factor: Berry talks about the weekend ahead

By Mel Berry.

So, Ive managed to find my way back for my second blog.

Well, what a weekend of what many may see as upsets. Not only have the French and Canadian women sides drawn their tests one a piece, but Scotland men hung on to beat the Wallabies, the England womens side got one over on the Black Ferns (the latter being of most interest to me, with the Black Ferns in the same World Cup pool as us!) AND, of course who can forget Jedward leaving the X Factor! I cant make up my mind whether Im sad or relieved they have gone?! Lucky Im not that indecisive on the rugby field.

So, to our forthcoming Autumn international, against Sweden. We know very little about Sweden as a 15s team, I know they have been around the 7s circuit for a while, and I know a little about them from playing Scotland last year.

However, they have shown how far they have progressed since then, not only beating the likes of Spain and Italy; both whom have been involved in the Six Nations; but also qualifying for the World Cup. This is a huge achievement, and leaves us, as Wales, in no doubt of the challenge it will present us this weekend. Ive actually been trying to learn a bit of Swedish from one of my friends, the Swede as we call her in Scotland. You never know, it may come in useful?

Although, as Wenche tells me quite frankly (tutting, frowning and shaking her head) "Stick to the rugbyyour Swedish is useless!" Ive taken her advice

With the international against Sweden firmly in our sights, last weekends final preparations had a tense edge to them. The team and squad for Sweden was not announced until after lunch on Sunday, which meant all places were still up for grabs until the very last minute before lunch time. We all know how important it is to be playing in this game. To be in with a chance of the World cup squad, you need to be in the Six nations squad, to be in with a chance of the Six nations squad, you need to be involved in the internationals prior to that. And, to be in any of those every second counts in training sessions. Even as captain, I never take my position for granted, its something you just cant do. As they say in X-Factor, Nobodys safe!!

We have been slightly unfortunate through the Autumn when it comes to injuries; as any team will know, the competitiveness for places makes you push yourself every week in training, every week in games, every squad session, and that inevitably leads to casualties.

Its been a frustrating time for us in the squad to have a few of those.

But with that brings opportunities, opportunities for youngsters to show what they can offer the team. Caryl James, Becky Newton and Elinor Snowsil will make their international debuts for us this weekend. Looking long term, this will be a good thing, to have any chance in a World cup it takes a squad of players, not just 15 and we need to breed not only a competitive squad but one where players are comfortable in the international arena. Sweden will certainly provide this for the new players in the squad.

So, by the time I am kicking back, enjoying the next episode of the X factor (I know its sad but dont pretend you do anything more exciting on a Saturday night!), the first step of our journey to the World Cup will have been taken. Personally, I cant wait.