Wales and Tottenham star Ben Davies has been advising Wayne Pivac on how rugby players should adapt to playing big matches in empty stadia.
Wales coach Pivac revealed he approached the Spurs defender during a visit to the club on a fact-finding mission as he prepares for the busy autumn series of matches.
Wales are due to play an intense period of six Tests in as many weeks, featuring a friendly against France, a rescheduled Guinness Six Nations appointment with Scotland and four Autumn Nations Cup games against opposition including England and Ireland.
All of them are set to be played behind closed doors as Covid-19 restrictions continue over top level sport, including both football and rugby.
That’s a situation former Swansea City full-back Davies – who is a keen rugby fan and played to a high level throughout school – has already got used to in matches for both club and country and he was able to offer Pivac some advice.
“The Welsh crowd is immense for us when we play at home,” said Pivac.
“The singing and the support the players get – they love playing in front of their home crowd as all nations do.
“We spoke to Ben Davies from Tottenham Hotspur a couple of weeks back when we were down there doing some research and asked him that exact question.
“He said once they were out there, you get into your zone as a player and it doesn’t really affect you too much, but certainly it takes a little getting used to, and then, after the first week, you get into the swing of things.
“Players do adjust. Certainly, it will be a different atmosphere and one which will be new to all of us.”
Wales’ 2021 Six Nations opener is against Ireland on February 7, with no immediate sign of crowds returning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pivac added: “Who knows when the next Six Nations will be played? There is talk that it may be pushed out slightly, with the current climate around what this virus might be doing.
“So, I think there are going to be discussions that are ongoing, and that’s the smart thing to be doing.
“Obviously, we are in a position now with no crowds – or very little crowds – and most unions will be in the same boat.
“They will be desperate not only for the tournament to go ahead, but also to make sure that there are crowds in the future so that we can meet our financial obligations to the game.
“We have taken quite a pounding over the previous few months, and it hasn’t helped anyone with having no crowds.
“Obviously, everyone would like to see it back to where it was pre-Covid with full crowds and the atmosphere and the spin-off it has for Cardiff and other cities and the country as a whole.
“We all want the same thing, and we have to make sure we make smart decisions based on the health and well-being of the community and the financial situation, and make the best possible decision for everybody.”
Best wishes to all those selected in Wayne Pivac’s Wales Squad – especially the uncapped players.
I’m disappointed that @ashton_hewitt has missed out though – couldn’t have done much more in the matches he’s played since the resumption.
— Phil Steele (@philsteele1) October 6, 2020
Pivac says he is very confident that Gareth Anscombe will return to top-flight rugby following a prolonged injury battle.
Anscombe has not played since suffering knee ligament damage during Wales’ World Cup warm-up game against England at Twickenham 14 months ago.
Pivac has revealed that the 29-year-old faces a further lengthy spell on the sidelines as he continues fighting back to fitness.
But the Wales boss is also positive about fly-half Anscombe, who played a starring role in Wales’ 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam success, and his long-term prospects.
“He’s had a little tidy-up since the original surgery, which has just set him back a little bit,” Pivac said.
“But he is working really, really hard, and we are not going to rush him back. It’s not worth rushing him back for the sake of maybe a tour or part of a season.
“At this stage, we are not putting any pressure on the player. We are saying ‘let’s give it the season to get it right’.
“Now, if he came right within that time-frame then that’s all the better, but there is no expectation on him to rush back for this season.
“I am very confident he will get back. He has got leaders within our game and industry looking after him, and they are saying he’s got every chance of getting back to where he was.
“He is determined to get back on the playing field as soon as he can.”
Anscombe has missed Wales’ last 15 Tests, and he is also unavailable for six more this autumn and then potentially the whole 2021 Six Nations Championship.