Scott Quinnell's retirement from international rugby was also a massive blow, and his absence means Wales do not have a big ball-carrier. It has also increased the pressure on out-of-form Colin Charvis to rediscover his true standards, and there is a lot of responsibility on the more experienced players.
The absence of Quinnell means Wales must play a 15-man game and I believe the crucial players are going to be the half-backs. I don't expect, or want, Wales to be throwing the ball out wide on every occasion but their game must be mobile and fast-moving. Hansen doesn't really have the power up front to keep the ball in the forwards.
Most importantly, Wales can't afford passengers. The opening game against Italy should not be underestimated and I imagine the team will just be happy to avoid an upset there. The Italians are making the right noises, confidence is high, but this game, and the fixture with Scotland, are matches we can win.
It's a few years since I was involved in the Six Nations but it really is a unique tournament. In what other sport do you get 26,000 people travelling to away games? I do miss the occasion of playing in the competition and I expect the 2003 RBS Six Nations to be very special, as the competition always is. It's something we have a right to be proud of.