Guglielmo Palazzani of Italy puts in to the scrum. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Wayne Pivac Seeks Second Opinion On Wales’ Frail Scrum Ahead Of Ireland Test

Wales have been consulting with World Rugby referee chief Alain Rolland over their scrum issues ahead of their trip to Dublin this weekend.

New head coach Wayne Pivac saw his scrum concede three penalties to the Italians last weekend and knows that he cannot afford to let the Ireland pack get on top in the tight if his side is to notch a Welsh record ninth successive Six Nations wins tomorrow.

“We’ve done an extensive review of our performance against Italy and we’ve spoken with the match officials to get their take on scrummaging and what to expect this weekend, amongst other things,” said Pivac.

“We probably didn’t agree with all the decisions there last weekend. A lot of those calls, you can look at an elbow or a bind on the loose-head, or look at the bind on the tight-head – we see one thing, the referee sees another at times.

“That’s just part and parcel of the game, but we’ve worked very hard on the scrum because we know there will be no step back this week.

“We’ve done as much as we can and we’ll be going out with a very positive mindset in the scrums. I spoke to Allain Rolland earlier on in the week and sent some clips through of some of our scrums just for clarification.

“I’ll be speaking to the referee before the match as well just to make sure that we are all on the same page before we instruct the players. It’s really important from any team’s perspective that we understand where the match official is going to come from at the scrum and breakdown.

“We’ve been doing that this week and I think we’ve had a lot of clarity from it. We’ll finish it off with a good meeting on Friday.”

France’s Romain Poite is in charge at the Aviva Stadium for a game that will determine which one of the two teams will possibly progress into Round 3 with a 100% record. He was the referee when Wales crucially beat Australia in their World Cup pool match in Japan.

Pivac has made two changes from the win over the Italians last weekend, moving George North onto the wing at the expense of Johnny McNicholl and giving new recruit Nick Tompkins a first start at outside centre. McNicholl drops to the bench, where there are four other newcomers in Rhys Carre, Adam Beard, Gareth Davies and Owen Williams.

Tompkins, a World Rugby Junior Championship winner with England in 2014, scored a try on his debut off the bench last weekend and Pivac admitted the new boy had simply forced his way into the side.

Head Coach Wayne Pivac of Wales. Pic:
Simon King/Replay Images.

“We were happy with George North in the centre. He got his hands on the ball a lot more, but we just felt we couldn’t leave Nick out based on his performance,” said Pivac.

“I thought he played very, very well against Italy and we think he deserves a chance, so that’s what he’s getting. It shows every player in the squad that if you play well, then you get rewarded.

“For a young man, Nick’s a seasoned pro who handles himself very well. He’s very impressive and I hope he goes as well starting as he did coming off the bench.

“It was a very good piece of business getting him to commit to Wales, but what the public saw on the field on the weekend we’ve been seeing it in training every day – he’s a true professional.”

Last month Tompkins was merely dreaming about breaking into the Saracens side to face Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup. Now the Dublin venue will be the stage for his first international start.

He was an unused replacement when Saracens beat Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup final in Newcastle last season, and was on the winning side against an Ireland team that included Garry Ringrose in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Rugby Junior Championships.

A win on Saturday would complete a great hat-trick.

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