After playing 100 times for his country over a 16-year Test career, Martyn Williams thought he knew everything there was to know about the Welsh camp.
But, over the past week or so, he’s learned that was far from the case.
That’s how long he’s been in his new role as Wales team manager, having taken over from the long-serving Alan “Thumper” Phillips.
By his own admission, it’s been an eye-opening initiation.
“Thumper did an amazing job and it’s not until you are in his shoes you fully realise what it involves,” said the former flanker.
“I have only been in the role just over a week and I have learned fairly quickly how big his job was.
“As a player, you think you know everything, but it’s only when you are on the other side you learn how little you know what goes on behind the scenes.
“It has been a steep learning curve.”
So what exactly has Williams taken on? What does the Wales team manager do?
“It is really difficult to give a job description to it because anything you can think of to do with rugby you are involved in, which I did not realise,” said the 44-year-old.
“I just thought it might be a bit of a jolly and go on a couple of recees here and there, but I have learned quickly there is far more than that.
“The main role I see is making sure everything is in place for the management and players to do what they have to do and perform at the highest level they can.
“Ultimately, at elite level sport now, what goes on behind the scenes is pretty incredible.
“It’s not just the players. There is a squad of 38 and perhaps a backroom staff of 27 as well.
“You have a responsibility of making sure the medics and strength and conditioning guys have everything they want.
“As a player, you are ultimately looking after yourself to ensure everything is okay.
“In this role, you have a completely different mindset. You make everything work for everyone else.
“You have about 50 or 60 people and it’s about managing that and everybody is a human.
“No person is the same and it’s about getting up to speed with players’ personalities.
“If the boys need anything out of the rugby side, you are there to help.”
Williams continued: “I started officially last Monday so the first eight or nine days have been getting up to grips with things and meeting everyone within the Union.
“I have been in Dublin this week, meeting the hotel manager over there and making sure they have training pitches, and we are already planning for the autumn internationals at the end of this year.
“I didn’t realise how far in advance things were done. I had an email this week about the 2023 World Cup, so it just goes to show there is so much forward planning.”
Since retiring from playing in 2012, Williams - known throughout the game as Nugget - has worked extensively within the media, while also being involved in the financial services sector.
So how long did it take him to make his mind up when new Wales coach Wayne Pivac approached him about the team manager’s job?
“It was an easy decision when I was asked,” he replies.
“It was September time when I had the initial conversation with Wayne.
“I did not have to think twice because you are back involved with your national team.
“You always have that itch even though you have stepped away from it and you enjoy yourself.
“It was probably also an easy decision because I thought it was an easy job! But I’ve learned it’s far from that.
“It’s a privilege, mate. An honour and a privilege.
“You know we are going to be under big, big pressure, that’s the nature of the beast given the country we are.
“It’s not going to be a smooth ride and there are going to be some bumps along the way. But as long as you are prepared for that, you can enjoy that.
“To be in the bubble again is pretty nerve wracking, but it’s exciting as well.
“Luckily I know all the backroom staff from playing with or working under them. Ironically the one person I did not know was Wayne.
“There have been a lot of familiar faces and a hell of a lot of help as well.”
Among those who have offered assistance is his predecessor Phillips, who did the job for some 18 years.
“He has been unbelievably helpful to me,” said Williams.
“When it was announced I had the job he was one of the first to pick up the phone.
“I had a coffee with him and a couple of hours and he allowed me in for the Barbarians week just to shadow what he did, what he does on match day and during the week.”
So what’s the main bit of advice Phillips has given him?
“Don’t worry about things you cannot control, and I have learned that pretty quickly,” he says.
“I have no input in terms of selection, what is going on regionally, you just make sure everything is in place for the players.
“Alan mentioned that in the past he had got involved with things outside of his remit and it drains you.
If you're reading this on your mobile and want to sign up for all Welsh rugby updates from WalesOnline, follow this link, and follow the instructions on your phone to sign up.
Alternatively, send RUGBY to 07557 203 473 in WhatsApp. Then save the number to your phone's contacts as: WalesOnline Rugby (case sensitive and no punctuation).
Your phone number will never be shared with any other users, nor will it be used for marketing purposes.
For more information on signing up, you can read more here.
“With experience, he learned that along the way. My job is to make sure the national team are good-to-go on match day and can perform.
“If you ask him, the role from when he started, to when he finished, is just completely different.
“Dealing with the commercial side of things, what’s expected of the players, there was no commercial department when he started.
“There’s HR, all that side of things, match day protocols, being on that subs bench managing the substitutions and fourth official.
“I just loved his way, Thumper. He didn’t suffer fools. He was always there for the players, that is the biggest thing that I will learn off him.
“He might upset people out of the squad, who are not part of it, but your main job is to look after the players.
“He is unique. He always stayed under the radar. The analogy of a duck is nice, working like the clappers underneath the surface while making sure everything above the water is going nice and smoothly.”
One wonders if there is anything he will do differently to Phillips?
“I won’t train as hard as he did, because he used to train very hard in his off time,” he replies.
“I’ve changed his office a little bit, there is a bit more light and a few more photos.
“It was a bit bland, to be honest!
“In all seriousness, I can’t speak highly enough about him, he has been brilliant over the last couple of weeks since it was announced and they are big shoes to fill.
“I joked with Wayne he has the easy job following Gats because he was only there 12 years.
“I am trying to follow Thumper who has been here 18 years!”
Williams is one of four former Wales captains in the new backroom team, alongside backs coach Stephen Jones, forwards guru Jonathan Humphreys and breakdown specialist Sam Warburton.
“Wayne has employed us all for our different skill-sets, not just because we were former captains of the national team,” said the former Pontypridd and Cardiff Blues player.
“Hopefully the skills we will bring will be far more important.
“It helps and if you look at all of us in the backroom staff we have been through the highs and lows of when we played for Wales.
“We have all been around long enough. If you don’t live here and come in it is really difficult to understand how the microscope is on you.”
He concluded: “This is a new challenge for me and there’s been a lot to learn, but it’s exciting and I’ve loved every minute of it so far.”