Springboks

Wales coach accepts pressure as Springboks loom after Italy loss

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Wales head coach Wayne Pivac (Getty)
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac (Getty)

Wales coach Wayne Pivac understands he is in a job "where everybody is watching your every move" following a dispiriting defeat by Italy.

There is no let-up for Pivac and his side, with Wales now facing the daunting task of a three-Test tour of South Africa in July.

Wales have never beaten the world champion Springboks in South Africa in 10 previous attempts, and Italy's stunning 22-21 victory in Cardiff condemned Pivac's defending title-holders to a lowly fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

It also meant Pivac had overseen just four wins from 12 Wales matches since last year's title triumph.

'Justified criticism'

The 59-year-old New Zealander said on Wednesday that he had not been affected by the criticism after the Italy match.

"No, personal criticism doesn't hurt because it is a job you know where everybody is watching your every move," he said.

"I believed we were good enough (to beat Italy), we had done enough work, and we could have won that game several times over.

"The fact is we didn't, so you take what comes with that, and a lot of it is justified."

Pivac has retained Dan Biggar as Wales captain, even though Alun Wyn Jones is in the 33-man squad the coach announced Wednesday to play South Africa.

Flyhalf Biggar took over leadership duties for this season's Six Nations while veteran lock Jones continued his recovery from a long-term shoulder problem.

Wales squad:

Forwards: Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Sam Parry, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, James Ratti, Tommy Reffell

Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar (captain), Rhys Patchell, George North, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams

Former skipper Jones, 36, rugby union's most-capped player of all time, returned to Wales duty in the defeat by Italy.

"Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big lay-off," said Pivac.

"He has had a little bit of rugby and we want him to hit his straps as a second row and be the best player he can be and focus on playing."

Ospreys back George North has been recalled 14 months after his last Test following a knee injury, while the uncapped pair of Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell and Cardiff No 8 James Ratti have also been included.

The first Test is in Pretoria on 2 July, with the series continuing at Bloemfontein before finishing in Cape Town.

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