Robert Howley says Mervyn Davies' death has given them extra motivation ahead of Saturday's Grand Slam showdown against France in Cardiff.
Wales backs coach Howley said: "It gives us even more motivation for tomorrow on what is hopefully going to be a great game for Welsh rugby."
Howley described Davies as a "colossus" and "legend" of the game.
Davies led Wales to the 1976 Five Nations Grand Slam and won 38 consecutive Wales caps and played in eight Tests on the successful British and Irish Lions tours to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa three years later.
His rugby career was cut short in 1976 when he suffered a brain haemorrhage playing for Swansea in a Welsh Cup semi-final against Pontypool at Cardiff Arms Park.
Davies won two Grand Slams and three Triple Crowns with Wales and after becoming captain in 1975 led them to the Five Nations Championship that season and the Slam the next.
In his 46 international appearances for Wales and the Lions he only ended on the losing side nine times.
He was widely tipped to captain the 1977 Lions squad but his glittering career was ended at just 29 by the brain haemorrhage.
"It's emotional, I met him on several occasions when I was Wales captain and he gave me plenty of words of wisdom," added Howley.
"He was a very humble man who knew the game inside-out.
"It's a sad day for Welsh rugby. The players, the management, we all send our sincere condolences to the family.
"Unfortunately, I never played with him, but from what I'm told he was a colossus.
"To only lose nine games as a player for Wales, the amount of caps, to play eight Tests for the Lions, he's an icon of world rugby.
"We can speak frequently of world-class players, but icon and legend belongs to Merv the Swerve.