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NOW & THEN; From pitch to pundit, getting ready for a big rugby clash is entirely different now for the ex-international. For starters, he doesn't have to play AC/DC on his iPod to get him revved up.

Byline: Martyn Williams

Rugby is a whole different ball game today, compared to when I first started playing. The players are so much bigger, quicker and stronger now than when I started out, and defences are much more organised than what they used to be. That makes scoring a try so much more difficult. Back in the day, the forwards were a lot bigger than the backs but that certainly isn't the case today!

When getting ready on match day, I tried to stay as relaxed as I could. For an early kick-off, you haven't got too much time to think about it. You get up, eat a bit of breakfast, a pre-match meal and you're in the changing room before you know it. I'd have my iPod on from the minute I was on the bus to the changing room. I'd listen to a lot of music. I'm more of a rock man really and depending on my mood I'd listen to AC/DC and Metallica. Gethin Jenkins would always put on dance music, but I preferred my own.

I was fortunate to be involved with two Grand Slams with Wales. They were in 2005 and 2008. I also went on three Lions tours. That's the pinnacle really for any player - you will always look back and remember. Winning 100 caps was a mixture of relief - because that's all people would talk about when I was stuck on 99 - and pride. Two very good mates of mine - Stephen Jones and Gareth Thomas - were lucky enough to get to a 100 before me so to join them was a real special day. And as a result we all had a house party for close friends and family.

Being a TV pundit is totally outside my comfort zone. The first time was for the BBC's coverage of the Wales v France game two years ago. You are nervous because you don't know what to expect and it's always difficult when you're still playing because you're still in the middle of it. You know you're going to get a fair bit of stick from players back in the changing rooms. My friend Jonathan Davies, who is also a part of BBC Wales' Scrum V team, has been brilliant. He's always been able to give me good advice. I travelled over with him that day and he looked after me. He told me to be myself telling me that if people like you, they like you, and if they don't, they don't.

I was amazed with the reaction though. I always had good luck messages when I played for Wales, but the amount of messages I had after my first broadcast in Paris... well, I've never had so many.

My family have supported me through thick and thin. My eldest Mia, who's 10, understands that I'm retired and have finished playing but my son Corey, who's six, still finds it difficult. I keep having to explain to him that I'm too old now and I can't keep up with the younger boys. But he still thinks I'm going to play again one day.

I probably watch more rugby now that I've finished playing. On my weekends off I used to try to steer away from rugby to switch off, whereas now, because I'm asked a lot about my opinion, I'll watch every game on the weekend. When I work on Scrum V, I go in about 3pm and go through the games and the analysis with the producers. It's surprised me how much preparation we need to do; it's very thorough.

There's a lot of doom and gloom around Wales' chances at this year's Six Nations. But I think we will bounce back. There's a fair bit of criticism about the Welsh regions but knowing the management and the players like I do, I think we'll see a positive response. The beauty of it is that the first game is at home, and that's key. If we can beat Ireland, which I think we will, then the autumn games will soon be forgotten.

Hear Martyn's thoughts on the Six Nations on a special preview edition of Scrum V on BBC Two Wales tomorrow at 6pm. He's also part of the BBC's Six Nations coverage
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 26, 2013
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