The Betfair Big Interview: Ex-Wales winger Adrian Hadley on Warren Gatland's Six Nations mind games

Adrian Hadley winning one of his 29 caps for Wales
Adrian Hadley winning one of his 29 caps for Wales

Warren Gatland opened up the Six Nations mind games by naming his Wales team to play England two days before he needed to. Betfair thought we should find the £6.40 to cross the Severn Bridge and talk to former international Adrian Hadley to see what's going on...

"In the England games historically home advantage has always made a difference. With it being the first game, if Wales can beat England and then go to Scotland and win too, then they would become favourites, I would think."

Hi Adrian. So why do you think the world knows the Wales team so soon?

It's good psychology. I think Warren likes playing mind games. He knows England have got problems picking their side, so it's a good opportunity to scare them a bit. He's sending a message that this is our team, you know how dangerous they will be, and how up for it they will be.

But doesn't it help give England a few more days to prepare?

I don't think it makes a difference. I think Stuart Lancaster would have known the Wales side pretty much anyway. There are no big surprises in it, he has gone with the tried and tested.

Would your line-up have been any different then?

I think Liam Williams should be a bit disappointed because he has probably been the form back three player since the start of the season, but there's little doubt he'll get on.

There had been hints that George North might get left out because Wales weren't happy with his defensive work in the Autumn.

As an ex-winger myself I'd say both he and Alex Cuthbert are pretty raw. As a purist wing player I think they still find themselves in positions where they can't tackle. Your best defensive ally should be the touchline. But in both cases what they offer going forward more than makes up for it. You only have to think back and Shane Williams was terrible at defending. No offence to him, because he was a legend, but he could be a speed bump sometimes, but would then turn a game on its head with something brilliant that would produce a try. These two are similar.

How do you assess where Wales are after the Autumn internationals?

There was a lot of doom and gloom about those games, because we needed to beat one of those sides. It was six years since we beat a Southern Hemisphere side, and I know we beat South Africa at the end but they were at the end of their season and had some hard rugby. We got into positions to win games and threw it away. We have to start winning those games if we are going to think about winning the World Cup. We expected to win more than one.

There was a lot of talk about Gareth Anscombe coming into the squad, but Dan Biggar has kept the place at fly half.

Rightly so, in my view. I like how he plays, he's a typical outside half - very confident, and got a chip on his shoulder if things don't go his way. He controls the game well, especially with Rhys Webb where they both come from the same region with the Ospreys, and not like many outside halves he puts his body on the line defensively. He's definitely progressed, where I think Rhys Priestland has gone backwards over the last 18 months.

Are you confident in Sam Warburton as the captain?

Definitely. He is a leader on the pitch. Having not been there I don't know what he talks like, we have a few leaders with Alun Wyn Jones and Gethin Jenkins, and Dan Biggar won't shut up either. Sam just leads from the front by example. I think Wales have a really good balance to the back row. He is a class player and he'll lead the team well.

Betfair's market makes England and Ireland the joint favourites - yet Wales play both of them at home?

Interesting, isn't it? Oddly we often seem to win in Dublin but lose to Ireland in Cardiff, but in the England games historically home advantage has always made a difference. With it being the first game, if Wales can beat England and then go to Scotland and win too then they would become favourites, I would think.

How do you view England at the moment?

I feel sorry for Stuart Lancaster because he has had so many injury problems, but they have got depth. I you look at the players coming in, sometimes you would think are they just as strong. They will always have a big pack. It depends what game they want to play, but I expect a lot of possession and try to strangle Wales.

And Ireland?

They had a decent Autumn, and they have strength in depth as well, and the news that Conor Murray is fit for them after all is a big boost. He controlled games in the Autumn with his kicking. They will miss Jonathan Sexton, though, in my view.

Thanks for your time and we've a free £50 bet with any winnings for a favourite charity.

I work for St David's Hospice care so they have to be my charity - and I'll back Wales to win the RBS Six Nations at 4.1. It's a good price.

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