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Wayne Pivac accepts job scrutiny and says Wales ‘will play strongest side until Rugby World Cup’

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Watch Wales’ three-Test tour of South Africa in July exclusively live on Sky Sports; Wales face Springboks in first Test in Pretoria on Saturday July 2, second Test in Bloemfontein on Saturday July 9, third Test in Cape Town on Saturday July 16

Last Updated: 19/05/22 12:10pm

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac accepts he is under scrutiny ahead of the tour to South Africa

Wayne Pivac accepts that he has a job “where everybody is watching your every move” as he looks for his Wales players to bounce back from a demoralising home defeat against Italy.

The Wales head coach’s next assignment could hardly be tougher – a three-Test series away from home against world champions South Africa in July, live on Sky Sports.

Pivac has named a 33-man squad for the tour, including uncapped Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell and Cardiff No 8 James Ratti, with the Springboks looming barely three months after Wales’ Six Nations campaign ended in disarray.

Italy’s 22-21 victory – their first in Cardiff – saw Wales fall from Six Nations champions last year to a fifth-place finish.

“We’ve had some robust discussions as a coaching group,” Pivac said.

“We let the dust settle a bit because emotions were running pretty high right throughout the country, and rightly so, because that is a result that nobody is proud of.

“The big thing is we had those robust discussions, we will learn as much as we can from the experience, and hopefully it makes us a better side moving forward.

Pivac has overseen two fifth-placed Six Nations finishes in three years

Pivac has overseen two fifth-placed Six Nations finishes in three years

“Certainly, that is the attitude we are taking. What we want to do is turn that frustration, that emotion if you like, into the hard work that is required going to a place like South Africa.”

Asked if the criticism post-Italy personally hurt him, Pivac added: “No, personal criticism doesn’t hurt because it is a job you know where everybody is watching your every move.

“When you take these positions on you know there is a responsibility that goes with it. Certainly, a loss to Italy was something that wasn’t in my thought process, to be honest, without sounding arrogant.

“I believed we were good enough, we had done enough work, and we could have won that game several times over. The fact is we didn’t, so you take what comes with that, and a lot of it is justified.”

Wales endured a dismal Six Nations which saw them lose four of their five Tests, including to Italy at home for the first time ever

Wales endured a dismal Six Nations which saw them lose four of their five Tests, including to Italy at home for the first time ever

Wayne Pivac has also indicated Wales’ South Africa tour this summer will effectively ramp up preparations for next year’s World Cup.

“It (tour) is the first step and the last step if you like,” he said.

“It is probably the last step for a few players to show they can compete on a regular basis at this level.

“It’s probably the start of (when) we are not going to be tinkering too much with selection.

Fly-half Dan Biggar will captain Wales on their summer tour to South Africa, with Alun Wyn Jones also in the squad

Fly-half Dan Biggar will captain Wales on their summer tour to South Africa, with Alun Wyn Jones also in the squad

“We will be looking to play our strongest side now through to the World Cup, and we make no apologies for that.”

Pivac, meanwhile, said that he has had “very, very positive” discussions with Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips.

“We certainly had a good discussion around the Six Nations,” he added.

“We do a normal review internally, our reports go through, and then obviously the powers that be have their discussions.

“My discussions I’ve had with Steve have been very, very positive and they have all been about preparing the side through to the World Cup.”





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