Wales 'will have a good crack' at Six Nations
REACTION: Wayne Pivac insisted Wales would be in contention for the 2021 Six Nations title after the coach’s first year in charge ended with an unconvincing 38-18 win over Italy on Saturday.
Wales secured fifth place in the inaugural year-end Nations Cup with the win in Llanelli, just their third victory under New Zealander Pivac.
Italy, twice, and Georgia are the only teams Wales have got the better of this year. But Pivac, who has repeatedly stressed the Nations Cup’s role in developing squad depth ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France, insisted Wales could compete with Europe’s elite.
“If we go pre-lockdown you would say we’re not too far off, the French game at home and the game with England,” Pivac said.
“Obviously we selected a different type of squad for this year-end series, which has been discussed quite a bit.
“But combining the two squads and our learnings, I’d like to think we’ll have a good crack at it [the 2021 Six Nations],” he added.
“No doubt others will be thinking England, France and Ireland.”
(Continue below …)
Wales surged into a 14-0 lead against following maiden Test tries by Kieran Hardy and Sam Parry before perennial Six Nations strugglers Italy fought back to be 18-17 ahead early in the second half.
Wales, however, regained their composure in the final quarter, with Gareth Davies, George North and Justin Tipuric running in the last of their five tries after Josh Adams had been yellow carded shortly before half-time.
“We’ve had 11 debutants since the start of the Six Nations, that’s a huge number,” said Pivac.
“We’ve learnt a lot about those players and they’ve learnt a lot. You can’t buy that, you’ve got to go out in those games and learn from them,” added the Wales boss, whose side suffered Nations Cup pool defeats by England and Ireland.
Italy captain Luca Bigi was left regretting the Azzurri’s failure to press on in the closing 20 minutes after tries by Marco Zanon and Johan Meyer, allied to eight points from the boot of fly-half Paolo Garbisi, gave them a narrow lead.
“We didn’t get a proper reaction when we had momentum,” Bigi said after a match played behind closed doors at Parc Y Scarlets because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to be more effective in the second half of games,” the hooker added.
“But we’ve seen some new faces in the Six Nations and this competition. We are evolving and improving and we are committed to this long-term project.”