Wales can make history on Saturday if they defeat France in their final match of the 2017 Six Nations.
A Paris victory for Rob Howley’s men, and a Grand Slam-clinching England win in Dublin later the same day, would see the men in red enter the world’s top four for the first time.
It would mean Wales avoiding New Zealand, England and Australia in the pool stages for the 2019 World Cup, the draw for which will be made in May.
Just weeks after losses at home to England and away against Scotland left them in danger of slipping out of the top eight seeds for the tournament in Japan, Wales’ remarkable turnaround started with a 22-9 win over Ireland last Friday.
Now, they travel to the French capital with plenty to play for.
Flanker and former captain Sam Warburton said: “The top eight is extremely competitive at the minute, which is good for world rugby.
“Before the Ireland game we were staring down the barrel of finishing fifth in the Six Nations, which I would have been gutted about given all the hard work we’ve put in.
“Now we could potentially finish second, depending on results.
“We have been in the top three over the past four or five years consistently now, and we don’t want to slip out of that.
“That is the motivation for the players. If we finish second, that’s not a bad championship. That is the motivation for the guys going out to France.”
Warburton has put himself in the frame to captain the British and Irish Lions for a second successive tour in New Zealand this summer with some sensational recent displays.
He said: “It’s been on my social media and wherever I go people have been predicting “you’re in”, “you’re out” — it just pops up everywhere you go.
“As players, there’s nothing you can do but laugh it off.
“Not one player has mentioned the Lions to each other. Everybody in our team room would love to go on the tour, but it’s out of our hands.”