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Ireland v Wales: Six Nations trip will be Wayne Pivac’s ‘biggest test’ of career

Wales coach Wayne Pivac says it was great business for Wales to get Nick Tompkins
Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 8 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Five, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru plus the BBC Sport website & app

Wales coach Wayne Pivac says the Six Nations trip to Ireland will prove the biggest test he has faced.

He is preparing for his first Wales Test away from Cardiff following a 42-0 Six Nations win over Italy and an uncapped victory against Barbarians in November 2019.

Wales have not defeated Ireland in the Six Nations in Dublin since 2012.

When asked whether this was the biggest test of his coaching career, Pivac replied: “Yes definitely.”

The former Fiji and Scarlets boss added: “It will be a massive step up in what we’ve had so far.

“We’ve been very fortunate in we’ve had that Barbarians game which allowed us to iron a few things out.

“We then went into a competition match against Italy and now we go up against a much sterner challenge in their backyard.

“It’s built nicely and this will be a real test to see where we are at and how much work we’ve got to do to be able to play the game under pressure.

“It’s been an enjoyable week and you can tell it’s a bigger game than last week just from the reaction of the players.

“That’s without us poking and prodding them. I expect it to be an enjoyable occasion, but with a lot of pressure.”

Weather warning

Wales are expected to have to cope with some challenging weather conditions with Storm Ciara scheduled to hit Ireland this weekend.

“Let’s hope the forecast is slightly wrong and it comes through early or later [than Saturday afternoon],” said Pivac.

“Both sides will have to play in it. If the conditions dictate, then we have to win games through an arm wrestle as well and this team has been very good at doing that in the past.

“We will be playing with a positive attitude whether that’s moving the ball through the hands or kicking the ball and trying to find space that way.”

Ireland won their first game under new head coach Andy Farrell with a 19-12 victory over Scotland last weekend.

“They are very strong. and we’ve got to bring a physical edge to the game,” said Pivac.

“If you don’t bring that physicality you are going to come off second best.

“They are good at grinding teams down and getting go-forward and penalties tend to come.

“They’ve also got a good set-piece which puts pressure on.”

Wayne Pivac addresses his Wales squad in training this week

Wales struggled in the scrum against Italy by conceding penalties, but Pivac disagreed with some interpretations of English referee Luke Pearce and Frenchman Romain Poite is in charge in Dublin.

“We’ve looked at the scrum and reviewed it,” said Pivac.

“We probably didn’t agree with all the decisions there. We see one thing, the referee sees another at times.

“That’s just part and parcel of the game, but we’ve worked very hard on the scrum this week.”

Verbal volleys

Pivac insists the build-up to the match will not be affected in the same manner as the Scotland and England game with some of the verbal volleys including words such as “hate” and “war”.

“Hate is a pretty strong word and I don’t think there’s any need for that,” said Pivac.

“We talk about getting in the trenches and all teams do. You are five metres out from their goal line and five metres out from your own where you’ve got to dig deep.

“It’s a contact sport, it’s a gladiatorial sport and you’ve got to have the mindset right.”

After their Dublin date, Wales host France on 22 February before travelling to face England on 7 March.

Nick Tompkins delighted with Wales start

“When you look at the way the competition is structured these next three weeks if we don’t get them right then it’s game over,” said Pivac.

“It is massive, but there’s also a good vibe in the team.

“The boys are more experienced than I am and know exactly what’s required if they want to repeat [the Grand Slam of] last year.

“It’s nothing, but a win this weekend. They know if they win this, they get a weekend off and then a home game to hopefully get excited about the last two games.

“It’s an important one and the players know what’s at stake.”

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