Wayne Pivac has warned that this year’s summer tour of South Africa is the last chance for some of his team to prove they are good enough when the World Cup appears on the horizon.
In one year, Pivac and his team moved up to six-nation Six Nations champions and lost to Italy on the final day of 2022. Since winning the closed-door tournament in 2021, Wales has won just four of 12 matches as they went to a depressing three. test trips where he clashed with world champions.
Recent performances have put pressure on head coach Pivac, who has once again faced calls for his job following a dismal campaign earlier this year. The head of Wales has suggested that talks with WRU CEO Steve Phillips should continue to lead the team to advance to the World Cup next year, but Pivac himself has indicated that players are playing for their test future.
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He said: “This is probably the last step for several players to show that they can compete regularly at this level. This is probably the beginning of the fact that we will not bother too much in the selection. We will try to play our strongest point until the World Cup and we do not apologize for that. “
In his talks with Phillips, he said: “We certainly had a good discussion about Six Nations. Internally, we conduct a normal review, our reports go through and then, of course, lead the discussion of the power. My discussions with Steve were very, very positive and all about preparing for the World Cup. “
After an unsatisfactory campaign, Pivac returned home to New Zealand to recharge his batteries and spent a week in South Africa searching for potential hotels and training venues for the upcoming tour.
And he revealed that he had relied on Jacques Nienaber, Rassie Erasmus and a Springbok coach to advise them on overcoming adversity.
“I have to say it was a really good red wine and a really good steak,” Pivac laughed. “They were great hosts. On that road, Martyn Williams [team manager] and Paul Stridgeon [head of physical performance] and I went. We looked at training grounds, gyms, swimming pools, hotels and, as with every trip, you get a choice and we looked at where we wanted to be, the travel distances and the like, and we looked at what equipment would be best. prepare us for those test matches.
“We had time off when we met as two coaching groups. Many countries do. It’s a good bunch of guys and we get along well. We had a great discussion about all the rugby stuff and the pressures that come with it.
“These boys were under some pressure and lost three times in the rebound with South Africa. We’ve discussed these things and how we handle them, and it’s also nice to have time out of the game. For the first time in two or so years, I was lucky enough to go to New Zealand and find a family I hadn’t seen in a long time. This will take your mind away from the game and you can reset and recharge the batteries.
“We had meetings with the coaches before and after this break to have time to leave and think and ask more questions about how we want to move forward with the selection and game plans.”
Pivac’s 33-member team, the smallest of his term, will gather at his Vale Resort training base on June 13 before the first test on July 2. Although players who are not involved in post-season rugby on the home front will have training days ahead of it and Pivac is aware that much of his team will be without a match for six weeks before the first match in Pretoria.
He said: “We definitely look at what we do in training, because you just can’t last a long time without simulating the game and making such contact. There is a risk with this contact element. There are definitely some discussions.
“Our players under the age of 20 will take part in the tournament, so they will be there at the same time and we can do some easy scenarios.” It’s on the table.
“And also whether we bring in the opposition or not.” It will be more likely to simulate matches with players under the age of 20 and possibly divide us into two teams. “