Wayne Pivac has praised “a lot of work from a lot of people” after Wales set themselves up for a Triple Crown tilt in the Guinness Six Nations.
Wales suffered six successive defeats under Pivac last year, suggesting there was little chance of starting the Six Nations campaign with victories over Ireland and Scotland.
But that is exactly what has been delivered, and England in Cardiff on February 27 now stand between Wales and landing the first major silverware of Pivac’s coaching reign.
Put a bow on this and there's your Valentine's Day gift sorted – courtesy of @LouisReesZammit 🎁
𝘚𝘥𝘪𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘯 𝘨𝘦𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘶. 𝘑𝘺𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘸𝘺𝘯𝘩𝘦𝘸𝘤𝘩 𝘺𝘳 𝘩𝘶𝘥 𝘨𝘢𝘯 𝘓𝘙𝘡 ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/FqO4VwlQPD
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 13, 2021
A tense triumph against Ireland was followed by another nerve-shredding experience at Murrayfield, where wing sensation Louis Rees-Zammit’s try double underpinned Wales’ 17th win from the last 20 Tests at Scotland’s expense.
While the Scots were left to reflect on prop Zander Fagerson’s sending-off and seeing a 17-3 lead wiped out, Wales could reflect on their first away win under Pivac, complete with a try bonus point.
“What we did in the Autumn Nations Cup (last year) is well-documented, with a view to the World Cup and building some depth,” Pivac said.
“With the side that we put out (against Scotland), we had to call on some depth at number six and in the midfield. Everybody put their hand up when they needed to.
“The atmosphere in the group, the environment in training is a very good one. The senior players are leading very well.
“The guys are enjoying coming to work, I think, and we are certainly enjoying working with them.
“It is a lot of work from a lot of people, it’s not just down to one or two individuals.
“It is a real squad effort, and I am pleased. There is a long way to go, but we are certainly happy to have those nine points.”
Eddie gives his thoughts following the win over Italy ⤵️#GuinnessSixNations
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 13, 2021
Wales have a healthy 70 per cent success-rate against England across the last 10 Tests in Cardiff.
And after being without a quarter of his original 36-man Six Nations squad through injuries or suspension for the trip to Edinburgh, Pivac could welcome back some big names.
Wing Josh Adams, top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup, is available again after serving a two-match ban for breaching Covid-19 protocols, while British and Irish Lions backs George North (foot) and Jonathan Davies (ankle) are among those aiming to prove their fitness.
But full-back Leigh Halfpenny, whose career has been hit by concussion issues in recent seasons, failed a head injury assessment at Murrayfield following a collision with Scotland wing Darcy Graham.
Looking ahead to England, Pivac added: “We’ve got a week off, but we will still be in work and reviewing the performance, looking at the areas of our game that we need to attend to.
“As we must, we will look to keep improving the performance. England will pose a different challenge. We fully respect the side that they have and the threats they will pose.”
Rees-Zammit, inevitably, will be left, right and centre of the build-up to England’s Principality Stadium visit.
The 20-year-old Gloucester speedster has scored four tries in his first six Tests, and is arguably Wales’ most exciting newcomer since North arrived as a teenager and touched down twice on debut against South Africa in 2010.
3⃣ Clean breaks2⃣ Tries1⃣ #GuinnessSixNations Player of the Match award
Louis Rees-Zammit inspired Wales to victory at BT Murrayfield 🏴
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 13, 2021
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said: “He has been playing well for Gloucester in the Premiership. I had heard a lot about him and seen a lot of highlights of him.
“Hopefully, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“I don’t want to heap the pressure on him, I want him to continue in similar vein.
“He has worked hard, but I think it is credit to the environment and the back-field players who have been helping him along.”