Wayne Pivac confident makeshift Wales can end six-test losing streak
New Zealander Wayne Pivac was dealing with a difficult choice concerning his latest Wales selection.
The first-year coach planned to utilise his entire squad throughout the Autumn Nations Cup, and he shot by altering 13 of the starting XV dealing with Georgia on Saturday (Sunday NZ time) in Llanelli.
Normally, Georgia would be a perfect opponent for choosing a weakened Wales side packed with new and fringe skill: A tier two opponent that Wales has never lost to, and are far from house.
However Pivac wasn’t offered the high-end choice of wholesale changes while his leading picks are playing well. Instead, his alternatives were made complex by a losing streak the Welsh can’t stop.
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The streak has grown to 6 matches, their longest because 2013, after being up to France, Scotland and Ireland in the last 4 weeks.
A lot more concerning, the team has actually played worse weekly. The breakdowns, set-pieces, and discipline have all been dreadful. This would have been a perfect chance for Pivac to keep his main team together to end the streak, temper the swelling criticism, and find some confidence and momentum.
The problem is, the majority of the core have played three straight tests and require a rest. Taulupe Faletau and Jonathan Davies are laid up by knee injuries. George North and backup first-five Rhys Patchell have been returned to their clubs. Pivac was hoping to select loose forwards Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty but they are still in injury recovery.
Offered the current outcomes, however, its debatable which is the weakened side. The group which has regressed this month, or an experimental side which isn’t mentally burdened by miserable efficiencies and may just be more happy to comprehend the new techniques Pivac is trying to bed.
” They most likely haven’t felt the pressure that others have as they’re a bit more youthful,” Pivac stated.
And they are younger. Three will debut. Flanker James Botham, the grand son of cricket fantastic Ian Botham, is 22.
After Wales task at junior level and 7s, Botham has been with the team all year however got his very first call up on Monday. His fellow Scarlets flanker, Shane Lewis-Hughes, made his Wales debut three weeks back.
Halfback Kieran Hardy and midfielder Johnny Williams are 24. Williams effectively dealt with testicular cancer last year and resumed playing in January. He scored for England in an uncapped match against the Barbarians in June 2019 but has actually changed loyalty to Wales thanks to his Welsh-born daddy.
Bristol first-five Ioan Lloyd, aged 19, could likewise make his launching from the reserves.
” We’re positive this group can finish the job,” Pivac said.
However speculative Wales teams have an unsteady history at house versus tier 2 challengers who notice a much better possibility of an upset.
Wales lost to Samoa in 2012, barely conquered 14-man Fiji in 2014, needed a last-minute dropped objective to pip Japan in 2016, and survived their first match against Georgia in 2017 thanks only to uncontested scrums.
Georgia has seven survivors from that game, including two-time Rugby World Cup lock Kote Mikautadze.
Mikautadze missed out on the 40-0 loss to England recently at Twickenham, where their weak point against the rolling trample was ruthlessly exploited again.
” If we want to have any progress, we need to forget who we play versus and … deal with our weak points,” he stated. “It is important to be more positive, more vital and more accurate.”
AT A GLANCE
Wales: Liam Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric (captain), James Botham, Seb Davies, Jake Ball, Samson Lee, Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Davies, Rhys Webb, Ioan Lloyd, Jonah Holmes.
Georgia: Lasha Khmaladze, Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (captain), Sandro Todua, Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Beka Gorgadze, Beka Saginadze, Otar Giorgadze, Kote Mikautadze, Grigor Kerdikoshvili, Beka Gigashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Mikheil Nariashvili. Reserves: Giorgi Chkoidze, Guram Gogichashvili, Lexo Kaulashvili, Lasha Jaiani, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Gela Aprasidze, Demur Tapladze, Tamaz Mchedlidze.