By Mel Berry - Wales captain.
So, it has been a while since I have last blogged.
Amongst other things, its been a very good time to reflect on a disappointing 6 Nations.
You spend time dwelling on your own personal performance and where it went wrong as a team, but quite simply you have to put that to bed and move on, and quickl. Our main personal aim as players following the 6 Nations was simply to ensure you did everything possible to get selected for the World Cup squad - more on that to follow!
So what has been happening over this period of time?
Well, apart from going through a period of training that can only be described as waking up and thinking, So, what part of my body doesnt hurt today? to which most of my replies are oh my god none!, it got to the point where I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, my office had moved from the top floor to the bottom, so I didnt need to climb, yes thats right climb - the stairs.
I considered leaving for work 30min earlier so I could have extra time to take rest stops mid way up!
I have, like some of my team mates, also tried to mix up my training. However, unlike Non Evans, who has opted for wrestling people, I have opted to do resistance runs and wrestle tug o war style against a tree!
Ok, so Im yet to win a battle against them, but there is still hope! For me, it is the best possible time to completely run yourself into the ground to make sure you are at your physical peak come August.
I have also been following the Football World Cup, just watching it, the atmosphere, the players, brings our World Cup to the forefront of your mind.
The fact that we will be experiencing the same feelings all these players are I cant wait!
On that note, Im sure many of you will have done a World Cup sweep at work or with friends. So, Im sure you want to know which top class teams I picked (Im not even going to talk about one of my sweeps, France; the less said about that the better!!) However, the important sweep, the team to which my hopes of glory and eternal bragging rights at work, are pinned onwas it Italy? Was it Spain? Was it Germany I picked? No, think bigger, better than that - yes thats right, it was Slovenia!
Oh how people in work laughed when I picked this out and as my team have continued to perform, as some of the favourites have slipped up, the mocking at work has gradually tailed off. At the moment, I am the smug one asking everyone what their group is looking like, and, hopefully following Wednesdays result, it could just be even better.
What this World Cup has shown so far and something that can be taken forward to our World Cup, is, that anything can happen, any team does have a chance of beating the other, you just have to believe it.
Now to come on to World Cup selection. Our head coach, Jason has picked a group of experienced players, as well as some very exciting youngsters.
The U20s have been producing some great rugby in the latter stages of this season and as a consequence of this, a number of the players have been rightly selected for the World Cup squad.
There have been questions asked about why a squad of 24 has been chosen, leaving 6 players to fight it out for the remaining 2 places. In all honestly, I think it is a great opportunity for those players to really assert themselves in training and show their desire to play in the World Cup. Jason has indicated how tight it is to select the two remaining places, but he has also made it clear that should any or all of those 6 players be producing stand out performances week in week out in training, above those standing in their places, then he has no qualms in giving them places instead.
It really makes for a competitive environment at training and a great way to bring out the best in everyone.
As for me, being selected as a centre, luckily I have experience of late changes of positions. I can remember my very first World Cup in 2002, the first year I was captain, coincidently I happened to be moved from my favoured position of back row to centre for the Wold Cup due to injury! It will be a challenge, but a challenge I am relishing at the moment.
I love the fact I am learning and developing even more as a player, and I am well on the way to being where I want to be by the time we have our warm up games.
Ive been following some of the other warm up games between other nations; USA v Canada, and Scotland v South Africa was obviously of interest. However, there is still 2 months before the World Cup and as a nation, and as an individual the focus is firmly on what we are aiming to achieve, and not so much on what is happening around us.
And so the week ahead looks pretty similar to all the other weeks in the lead up to the World Cup fitting in as many training sessions as possible, taking every opportunity to improve my skills, speed and fitness as the tournament gets closer.
However, come Wednesday night, I will ensure I get my training finished in time to cheer on my team in their final pool game against England Im spending my winnings in my head already.