|Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 20:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Live BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, S4C|
Hooker Ken Owens says he is glad Wayne Pivac continued to believe in his coaching mantra, with Wales now on the brink of a Grand Slam.
Pivac won three out of 10 games in his first year in charge but has led Wales to four wins in the 2021 Six Nations.
Victory against France in Paris on Saturday would complete the transformation for Pivac and his side.
“He’s stuck to his guns, believed in his philosophy, and tweaked things along the way,” said Owens.
Few predicted the turnaround in fortunes as Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup in 2020 as Pivac initially struggled to follow in the footsteps of fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland.
Owens was Pivac’s captain at Scarlets where he saw something similar develop with a slow start before the region won the Pro12 title in 2017.
“It’s been a tough transition for him stepping into the job after the great work Gats did over the last 10 years,” said Owens.
“It was never going to be an easy job and there have been some early teething problems.
“We look at things after every campaign and I’m glad he’s backed the squad, players and management.
“The players and staff have done the same with him and we’ve got an ‘all in it together’ mentality. We’ve got some results on the board and hopefully we’re on the verge of a bit of history.
“Foundations were put in during the last Six Nations and Wayne and coaches blooded young players in the autumn campaign which we’ve benefitted from and will continue to do so.
“It comes down to everyone trusting and backing each other and working hard. We have had little bit of luck along the way, but you have to capitalise on that.”
Wales’ attacking game has also improved with 17 tries in four games so far, including an Owens’ double in the 48-7 win over Italy.
“Things are clicking,” said Owens.
“We’re taking our opportunities and trying to spread the ball and have had some individual brilliance throughout the competition.”
Owens, 34, says a Grand Slam in a troubled year would lift the nation.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in a couple of these games before this,” said Owens.
“It’s been a tough year since Wayne has taken over but it would be reward for the hard work of the management, staff and players.
“For the public it would be a huge uplift after a tough year for the country. It would be special if it happens but we’ve got to go and get the job done before we think about lifting the trophy.
“It would be amazing for the country. After the England game I was driving through the village. The sun was out and there was a spring in people’s steps.
“It makes you realise as players the effect we can have on people. In the last month, we’ve managed to get good results which has given people something to smile and cheer about.
“Hopefully we can continue that over the next week.”
Standing in the way will be France who are the only other side who have a chance of winning the tournament, despite losing 23-20 to England last weekend.
“With the way France have been playing in the last couple of years they are making massive strides forward,” said Owens.
“They’ll have been disappointed to lose to England but be going back to Paris looking to get a result to keep their championship hopes alive.”
This Wales squad have to create their own history by clinching an away Grand Slam with all the recent successes achieved in Cardiff. The last tournament clean sweep completed on the road by Wales was in 1971.
“It’s going to be different with no supporters and almost takes that home advantage away to a certain degree,” said Owens.
“We’ve been to Paris and got big wins before. It’s a different challenge to the ones most of us have experienced before when we’ve been at Cardiff and had electric energy from the crowd.
“Every Grand Slam decider or game to win a championship is full on and I’m expecting the same from France who still have their own title ambitions.”