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Rugby headlines as coach takes swipe at WRU’s ‘mystery person’ and Pivac identifies the two massive games for Wales

Your rugby headlines for Monday, September 27.

Ryan takes swipe at WRU

Dragons boss Dean Ryan has vented his frustration at the WRU over the issues he encountered while trying to recruit ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Ryan managed to acquire props Aki Seiuli and Fijian international Mesake Doge but revealed his surprise over the number of obstacles that he faced.

Ryan says he had to get sign-off on the players from ‘a mystery person’ at the WRU and insists he never got it.

“In May, we were having to ask permission to get people in. We got no answer,” he said.

“To get both Mes and Aki is a fantastic piece of work. I couldn’t believe how many walls were built to try and make that difficult, even though we were struggling to get 23 people on the side.

Read more: For the latest rugby news and interviews, stop by our home of Welsh rugby

“Those are the hurdles that we face, in a market where normally you’re late by January for front-rowers.

“The guys we’ve got, we’re delighted with.”

He added: “At the moment, we need sanction from… I don’t know, a mystery person at the WRU about the quality of the people when they’re not Welsh.

“I never got an answer and I still don’t know who that person is.

“We never got an answer in a recruitment market that is shifting daily and we were already in April or May.

“I just don’t know. We’ve got a number of spaces that we are able to use for non-Welsh players and we couldn’t get them in.”

It was then put to Ryan that if, in his view, the players were good enough, then shouldn’t that be enough?

“I’d be here a long time if I gave you a list of things that I find frustrating,” he responded.

Booth defends Beard selection

Ospreys boss Toby Booth has insisted he would not expose a player who was not ready after he raised eyebrows by selecting Lion Adam Beard in the squad to face the Dragons.

Much has been made of the rest period being afforded to players who featured on the recent tour of South Africa, with English stars being given a mandatory 10 weeks off.

Beard was the first of the Welsh Lions to return to action, coming on in the second half of the Ospreys’ victory over their Welsh rivals.

“We talk about exposure but I won’t expose a player who is not ready to play,” insisted Booth.

“He’s done a couple of weeks of training and he wasn’t exposed as much in the Lions series towards the end of it.

“The big thing for us is that we have two Lions in the second row and that makes things a little bit more difficult. I was in conversation with Wayne Pivac around that.

“We want to make sure we get all our players playing and playing well.

“We will mix and match throughout this block [of games] but ultimately they have to be good to go and Beardy was good to go.”

When asked if Alun Wyn Jones will return to next week, Booth said: “It’s probably a bit soon.

“He’s in full training but we just want to make sure that shoulder is absolutely perfect.

“If he needed to, he could play. But he’s got to get in the team first.”

Pivac: Fiji and Wallabies mentally massive for us

Wales coach Wayne Pivac says their autumn schedule will be “as tough as it has ever been” and identified the clashes against Fiji and Australia as massive for them mentally.

Pivac’s men kick off their Tests next month with a daunting list of matches against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia at the Principality Stadium.

The clash with the All Blacks will also see Pivac without his England-based players. The Kiwi picked out the games against Fiji and the Wallabies as particularly significant due to the fact both are in Wales’ 2023 World Cup group

“It’s going to be as tough as it has ever been,” Pivac said on Scrum V.

“It’s a good test on us, on our style of game we want to play, we are building towards a World Cup in 2023, we’re at the halfway stage.

“It’s a great time for us to come up against the southern hemisphere boys. At the World Cup we’ve got Fiji and Australia in our pool, so mentally for us those two games are massive for us.”

Pivac will be putting finishing touches to his squad selection over the coming weeks. When asked if any players are pushing into his thoughts, his answer was matter of fact.

“Form is everything,” he said.

“There are few injuries about at the moment. There will be some players that won’t be able to be selected. We’ve looked at around 50-odd players in the last two years, so it’s time for us to start nailing down 40 to 45 players of which 33 will come from that group for the World Cup.

“We are looking forward to naming that squad, getting back into training and challenging ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides.

“It’s about making sure we give everyone a fair trial, we’ve had good look at the players out there at the moment and select the boys we think have the skillset and play the game we want, and make sure we critique that over the coming months and certainly leading into World Cup year. So there is a lot to do, and there’s a lot of good people behind the scenes doing a lot of hard work.”

Pivac also had a message for his senior players in his squad – age is but a number. England coach Eddie Jones has cut a number of his veteran members from his plans going forward but Pivac says it’s down to form at the end of the day and managing the workload of his elder statesmen.

“If you are good enough you are old enough,” he added.

“Your age is on a birth certificate, a piece of paper. At the end of the day it’s how well you are performing in the season we are in. We’ve got some players over 30 years of age, it’s their form and trying to project out what they’ll be doing between now and the World Cup and making sure we look after those players so that they get every opportunity to put their hand up at the right time.”

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