Coming up on Sport Wales: The TV programme

SPORT WALES

BBC Two Wales:
Friday, 25 January, 21:00 GMT
Wales celebrate over Ireland
Wales celebrate victory over Ireland in the 2011 six nations

Even as we look ahead to a new Six Nations tournament, you cannot quite escape the subject of this summer's Lions tour to Australia.

Who is auditioning for a place in the British and Irish squad? Who is likely to captain the tourists? And how will Wales fare in the Six Nations without the man who will lead the Lions Down Under?

It is just as well Sport Wales has a couple of big rugby names on hand to ponder the issues surrounding another busy year for the international game.

Former Wales captain Jonathan Davies and Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll have a frank exchange of rugby views during a round of golf.

Brian O'Driscoll

We'll have all the news and views from the Wales camp as the home team look to arrest a worrying run of seven straight Test defeats.

As for the Irish threat, will the 34-year-old O'Driscoll's powers be diminished or enhanced given he won't be skippering Ireland at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday?

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip has been retained as captain after standing in for O' Driscoll when he was injured for the autumn internationals.

That is not to say O'Driscoll isn't in contention to captain the Lions in the summer - a possibility he discusses with Davies.

That, of course, is a decision that rests with Warren Gatland, who relinquishes any Six Nations responsibility with Wales in order to focus on his role of Lions coach. A watching brief only for the man who led Wales to their third Grand Slam in eight seasons in 2012.

In November Davies questioned whether the Welsh Rugby Union might have been better off insisting Gatland steer Wales through the whole autumn series rather than hand control to Rob Howley for the first two matches. Davies' argument was that victories were vital for Wales' world rankings and World Cup pools.

Under the split coaching arrangement, Wales lost twice under Howley (against Argentina and Samoa) and twice under Gatland (against Australia and New Zealand).

So what hope of Wales successfully defending their Six Nations title with Gatland missing for the entire competition?

A question not just for the Wales players and O'Driscoll and Davies, but also our programme guest Gwyn Jones, another former Wales captain who joins presenter Dot Davies at the Millennium Stadium to help preview the 2013 tournament.

It will be a far more low-key affair when Wales' round-ball counterparts take to the field at the Liberty Stadium for a friendly against Austria on February 6.

Only a late, thrilling victory over Scotland prevented Chris Coleman's team from an autumn whitewash of their own as Wales lost three of their opening four World Cup qualifying matches to leave the dream of Rio 2014 hanging by a thread.

Some fans are keeping the faith, others appear to have become disillusioned at Wales' seemingly eternal struggle to qualify for a major tournament.

So can Wales win back their hearts and minds with victory over the Austrians?

Sport Wales
Sport Wales

As well as addressing the footballing nuts and bolts, however, we get a flavour of what life is like for an international manager during the downtime between matches.

How many miles does he travel watching players and carrying out public engagements? With the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders, how much responsibility does he feel?

Our 'Day in the Life of Chris Coleman' feature aims to find out a little more about the man behind the manager as we shadow Coleman on a day of duties in South Wales.

Speaking of 24-hour road trips, reporter Steffan Garrero hot-footed it from Cardiff to Nottingham to Sheffield to meet the three Welsh ice men hoping to make it to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The ice hockey trio in question are Cardiff Devils Phil Hill, Nottingham Panthers' Matthew Myers and Sheffield Steelers' Jonathan Phillips - all part of the Great Britain squad for the crucial set of final Olympic qualifiers in Latvia in February.

Watch Sport Wales this Friday on BBC Two Wales at 21:00 GMT

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