Jonathan Davies tells Sky Sports rugby union writer Tony Curtis that Wales are determined to prove their critics wrong.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 30/01/13 5:05pm
Wales head into the tournament they won with such panache a year ago on the back of seven straight losses.
A 3-0 series whitewash in Australia was followed by home defeats to New Zealand, the Wallabies, Argentina and Samoa in the autumn.
The losses to the Pumas and the Pacific Islanders, in particular, were hard to take and left Wales facing plenty of criticism.
However the 24-year-old Davies, who missed those two defeats, insists the squad's confidence remains undiminished as they prepare to kick off their title defence.
"We've got to back ourselves as champions," Davies told Sky Sports.
"We are bitterly disappointed with the way things went in the autumn as we expected better results. However we can't do anything about that now, we can only look forward.
"We want to prove our doubters wrong and show the Wales public that we can play attractive rugby and get the results.
"It is a big ask, we know, but if we can start with a good win then that would set us up.
"We are proud of our Grand Slam and we want to defend it but you can't look too far ahead. We will concentrate on Saturday and build from there.
"It is key to get some momentum and that is something Rob Howley has been drilling into us."
Standing in their way on Saturday, though, will be an Ireland side motivated by revenge.
In last season's opener, Ireland had been leading 21-20 in Dublin - and were seemingly on course for victory. That was until Wayne Barnes deemed Stephen Ferris had performed a tip-tackle on Wales lock Ian Evans - with the referee awarding Wales a last-minute penalty and sin-binning the Ireland flanker in the process. Leigh Halfpenny duly kicked Wales to victory, thus handing Ireland all the ammunition they need heading to Cardiff this time around.
However the Scarlets centre said: "That's rugby. You won't always get the rub of the green. We got it on that occasion and Leigh stepped up and landed the penalty despite great pressure.
"I thought we had played pretty well, though. To me it was one of our better performances during the championship."
It had been a controversial end to an enthralling contest that had swung one way and then the other.
And Davies, who scored two tries in the win, is expecting another closely-fought match this time around.
"It will be a pretty difficult game against Ireland, they are massively experienced with a pretty settled side," he added.
"They have Heaslip and O'Brien back and they are two big ball-carriers, while the backs have played a lot together - although Craig Gilroy will be coming in on the wing."
Jonathan Davies was speaking on behalf of Thomas Cook Sport, official travel partner of the WRU. Packages are now available for The Lions Tour of Australia in 2013. Call 0844 800 9900 or visit www.thomascooksport.com for details.