By Paul Jones
Ross Moriarty wants Wales to light up a few smiles this weekend – 24 hours after the circuit breaker lockdown has been imposed.
The Dragons star will aim to help lift the spirits of a nation as Wayne Pivac’s side finally prepare to return to Test rugby.
When Wales run out to face France in Paris on Saturday it will end a run of 231 days since they last played at international level after the Covid-19 pandemic stopped rugby dead in its tracks.
Pivac’s side meet Les Bleus as a warm-up to their final Six Nations clash with Scotland and the start of their autumn Nations Cup campaign.
The game will come at the end of a week when Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the country will return to a ‘firebreak’ lockdown from Friday until November 9.
“We know we can put smiles on faces and make days better for people,” Moriarty said.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting this situation to go on for as long as it has. It’s been tough for everyone – not just rugby players. We want to get back to normal as soon as possible.
“That (raising Welsh spirits) is going to be a big thing for us and we know that comes with winning. We’re going to be trying our hardest to do that. We want to win every game.
“We did have some really good performances in the Six Nations. When we did fall short we still played pretty well, but we now want to get back to winning ways.”
Moriarty, who now has 45 caps, will be leading the charge for Wales in their six autumn games.
First up is a France side set to be missing a number of their top stars as the French association and its clubs struggle to come to an agreement over the release of players.
Moriarty and the rest of the Wales squad are adhering to strict Covid protocols in their Vale of Glamorgan bubble.
“We’ve been used to following the Covid rules with our regions so coming in with Wales wasn’t a shock. We knew what to expect,” Moriarty said.
The new Wales kit out today. Modelled superbly by Ross Moriarty 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 A modelling career awaits you after rugby 😜😜 pic.twitter.com/3ob5vUX7ac
— Morriston RFC (@RfcMorriston) October 14, 2020
“We know we’ve got to be safe and keep each other safe. We don’t want any mistakes which could possibly put anyone out of playing. We set ourselves very high standards.
“We’re all adults and know what is expected of us. We don’t want any problems or anyone brining anything into the camp which is going to disrupt something.
“We had to fly to Dublin the other week with the Dragons and we were very safe. We had a chartered flight so you can’t really get much safer than that.
“We get tested every week and follow all the guidelines. We’ve got the France game which is going to be a good warm-up for Scotland and we’re all looking forward to it.”
Moriarty faces severe back-row competition from the likes of Taulupe Faletau and Aaron Wainwright this autumn, but has started the season well with the Dragons.
He will have regular game time in the next month with Wales set to rotate their players for their six matches.
James Davies is another flanker rival after he replaced the injured Josh Macleod.
Hooker Ken Owens is also out of the tournament.
“Touch wood I’ve been thankful not to pick up any injuries which is always a worry. I’ve felt like I’ve got through a lot of good work,” Moriarty said.
“There is always stuff to work on so I need to keep going. It’s going to be very strange playing for Wales with no fans, but it’s something we’ve got to get used to over the next few weeks.
“We’re happy to be back in camp and around the boys again.”