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Wayne Pivac Q&A: How we’ve turned it around and why Gethin Jenkins was annoyed even at 27-0

Question: How close was that to the script you wrote yourself?

Wayne Pivac: Yeah, fairly close in that first half. To have the bonus point by half time gave us the luxury of being able to rest a few.

We had hoped to get into that position and we achieved that. We came for five and we got five, so we’re certainly happy with that.

Q: How about the health of your players – are they all fit and well?

WP: It’s the normal sort of bumps and bruises. It’s nothing very serious. We’ll see how they are tomorrow.

Q: How pleased are you with the way you put Italy away?

WP: We scored some good tries but we were pretty disappointed that we actually left a few out there as well. We talked about being ruthless and clinical.

We did that at times but there were a couple we left out there that we didn’t quite finish.

I think if Josh Adams had his time again, he would probably attack that try line a little bit differently. But we certainly created at times.

Q: How good a rehearsal was it for Paris?

WP: It’s a difficult one because it’s different opposition. Going to Paris will be a different challenge for us.

It’s one game at a time and you play what’s in front of you. The boys managed that first 40 to 50 minutes very well and then it got a bit scrappy.

Q: How do you sum up the campaign so far compared to the autumn?

WP: They’re chalk and cheese, aren’t they? We know the pain we went through in the autumn and they were certainly not the results we were after.

But you’re seeing some of the players who got opportunities in the autumn playing out there now in the Six Nations, coming off the bench, some getting starts.

We’re that much better for the autumn, we’ve got a lot more depth and we’re going to have to keep building on that depth.

Because the big prize at the end of the day is working towards the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and this championship was always going to be a line in the sand for us.

We’re very pleased to be four from four, obviously, with an opportunity that we can finally talk about, and that’s to try and go all the way and win five from five, the Grand Slam.

Q: How does it feel to finally start talking about the Grand Slam?

WP: It’s very much a cliche isn’t it but you can’t get too far ahead of yourselves. If you do, a game like Italy becomes a banana skin.

We’ve got respect for the way they attack and they’re looking to move a lot more ball. We knew our defence would be challenged more than it has been previously against Italy.

We’re pleased to have held them to one try but now we look forward to talking about France.

Q: How many levels do you need to go up when you face France in order to finish the job?

WP: Well we need to improve. We’re looking to improve every week.

They will be a different proposition. We’ll review our performance, we’ll preview them and we know we’re going to be in for a massive game.

The two times we’ve played France so far, we’ve been on the receiving end of the result. We know we’re going to be in for a massive challenge.



Man of the Match Josh Navidi of Wales with head coach Wayne Pivac

Q: Wales have been at home when they’ve won Grand Slams in the Six Nations era, this is away – how much of a challenge is that?

WP: The absence of fans neutralises things a little bit. We travelled out to Paris in the warm-up for the autumn campaign.

We played there in a late, nine o’clock kick off last time. It will all be familiar territory for us, which is a good thing.

If you asked this side coming out of the autumn whether they’d take four from four travelling to Paris for a potential Grand Slam, I think you know the answer.

Q: You’ve now matched Wales’ all-time Six Nations record of 17 tries with a game in hand?

WP: I wasn’t aware of that stat but it’s pleasing to score tries, people love seeing tries scored and we like playing a brand of rugby where we give ourselves the opportunity to score plenty of tries.

We’ve just got to make sure we get the balance in our game right. That’s something we’ve been working on and tweaking.

We weren’t as clinical as we would like today but the intent was certainly there. We’ve just got to make sure we get our conversion rate right and hopefully we can continue to score tries.

Q: How pleased were you with the combinations out there today?

WP: To have four tries in the bag by half time, we were very pleased with that part of the game.

To have held Italy scoreless was also very pleasing and we achieved everything we wanted to in that first half.

That allowed us to rest some of the bigger players – George North, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Ken Owens – and guys that have had a lot of game time.

We’re really pleased to have got ourselves in the position to do that.

Q: We’ve talked about the tries – is this ‘Wayneball’ at its finest?

WP: Stephen Jones might have something to say about that as the attack coach. It’s a collective effort in this group.

It’s just a sign of what we want to do. We want to be very positive when we’ve got the ball.

It was far from perfect today but the intent was certainly there. It’s part of our game, we want to keep tweaking the attack and getting better if we can.

Q: Was Gethin Jenkins a little bit annoyed to concede that try?

WP: He was annoyed in the first half at 27-0! We weren’t dominating enough tackles and we weren’t bringing enough line speed.

Gethin had a chat at half time around that and I think you saw that in the last 10 minutes, when the messages were going on thick and fast around defending that tryline.

At a certain point in the game it becomes a dress rehearsal for the game next week. Certainly, the defence at the end was paramount and we’re pleased that we held them out.

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