Wales boss Wayne Pivac looking for Six Nations improvement after poor 2020

Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent

Wayne Pivac accepts there is “plenty to do and improve on” as Wales target making an impact in this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Wales kick off their campaign against Ireland after a poor 2020 when they won just three Tests from 10 starts under Pivac’s coaching direction.

Their Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup tournaments were Pivac’s first at the helm since he succeeded Warren Gatland as head coach.

And the year ended with a fifth-placed finish in both competitions as Wales managed wins against Italy (twice) and Georgia.

Their best performances were probably in games they lost narrowly – France at home and England away – which underlined quality that Wales need to deliver on a consistent basis.

“There have been a few learnings we’ve taken from not only the first Six Nations, but also the autumn, in terms of what we know about the players and about each other as a management group applying our trade at this level of the game,” Pivac said.

“Also our game itself, which didn’t function as well as we would have liked in the last campaign.

“There is plenty to do and improve on. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes in terms of our planning and the way we are going to be playing the game in this competition.

“We are definitely looking at the here and now, making sure that we focus on the learnings and get better performances.

“There has been no lack of work ethic. Everyone has rolled their sleeves up and done a great job. It’s a very compatible group.

“Now, it’s just a matter of making sure that we control everything we can control and individuals take responsibility on the playing field and training field.

“We want to get our best performances out on the track in the 80 minutes, and we weren’t able to do that in the last campaign.

“We’ve got to be playing good, solid rugby across the 80 minutes and give ourselves the opportunity to win every game. It is something we will be working very hard at achieving.

“We are here to win games of rugby. We’ve explained what we did in the autumn – our methodology, if you like – but now it’s about getting performances on the park and winning games of rugby.

“We want that as much as the public, and that is what we are striving for.”

Pivac’s 36-man Six Nations squad includes fit-again trio Tomos Williams, Ken Owens and Josh Navidi – they all missed the entire autumn campaign – while captain Alun Wyn Jones is on course to recover from a knee injury and be available for the Ireland game.

Pivac will also have been encouraged by the form of several key players during recent Guinness PRO14 games, no-one more so than wing George North, who has starred for the Ospreys and is just two appearances away from reaching 100 Wales caps.

“The game, at different stages (in the autumn) against different opposition, had its moments – positive and negative,” Pivac added.

Alun Wyn Jones File Photo
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to be fit after injury (Adam Davy/PA)

“Unfortunately, in the first half of the campaign, there were more negatives than positives. I would like to think that in the last three weeks we started to see some more of the positives and the learnings coming through to the team.

“Some young players took some steps forward, and also in terms of how we wanted to play the game.

“We definitely have to make bigger improvements in this competition to be successful. We are tweaking some of the things we are doing in all those areas.”

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