Wayne Pivac: Training Has Improved . . . And We’re Fed Up Of Losing

Wayne Pivac. Pic: Getty Images.

Wayne Pivac: Training Has Improved . . . And We’re Fed Up Of Losing

By Paul Jones

Wayne Pivac is expecting more energy, and looking for greater control, from his Wales side when they launch their Nations Cup campaign against Ireland in Dublin on Friday night.

Having experienced a run of five successive defeats, Pivac is confident of getting a positive reaction from an unchanged side from the team named to play Scotland at the end of last month.

“We believe we can win whenever we take the field, against any opposition. The fact that we haven’t done that in a series of games now, obviously, is not something that we’re comfortable with,” said Pivac.

“The players are just as proud as the coaches and they want to get performances right and results flowing their way. This group are well aware of the situation and their motivation will come from within.

“We look at the energy in training, and the vibe within the group, and that’s been very good this week. We’re working very hard and trying to eliminate the errors in our game that are putting us under pressure – we turned over far too much possession against Scotland.

“On 25 occasions we gave the ball back to the opposition, either through penalties, free-kicks, a turnover at the breakdown or mistakes in general play. If you make those mistakes against any quality side, you’re going to be up against it.

“We don’t want to be doing that, we want to give ourselves the opportunity to build phases, that’s what we’re all about in attack. We certainly weren’t able to do that.

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“There are clear messages to go out – make sure we eliminate errors, we have to have good discipline and make sure we play in the right areas of the field. Then we want to really express ourselves, which we felt that we didn’t do against Scotland.”

The game at the Aviva Stadium will be followed by home assignments against Georgia and England to determine who Wales will play in the Nations Cup play-offs on 5 December.

Over the course of the four games in the new-look competition, Pivac is looking for improvements all round.

“This tournament is a fresh opportunity and we’ve talked about that and we’re looking forward to it.

Ireland away is a stiff challenge first up, but there is no better challenge to find out how much improvement we’ve made over the last two weeks,” added the Wales head coach.

“We have to be able to control what’s within our control. The group has trained very well and it’s probably been a massive step up from where we’ve been.

“When these sorts of things that you mention [defeats and coaches losing their job] happen, you’d expect a response and we’ve certainly seen that in training. It’s just the volume and the intensity in the session and that’s a positive sign for us.

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“We’re away from home against a good Ireland team. We have to look after our own game, make sure we compete in all areas and we give ourselves an opportunity to win the game and put on a good performance.”

Tomas Francis will win his 50th cap in the front row and George North will make his 100th Test appearance if he comes off the bench. At the other end of the experience scale, Bristol Bears outside half Callum Sheedy will win his first cap if he is called onto the field.

Justin Tipuric, who missed the defeat to the Scots when he pulled out at the last minute through illness,returns to the starting XV, but fellow back row men Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty, as well as scrum half Rhys Webb, are still not quite ready.

“Josh is looking really good and it’s looking like he’ll be available for next week. Ross, unfortunately, went over on his ankle again during training and we’re not sure whether that will be another week or two weeks,” said Pivac.

“Rhys has trained very well. The Georgia game might be a little soon for him, but he should be right for England.”

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