Wales boss Wayne Pivac confident their return to Cardiff will make a ‘big difference’ as they look to put dreadful 2020 form behind them ahead of the Six Nations
- Wales boss Wayne Pivac believes returning to Cardiff will give his side a boost
- They were forced to move out of the Principality Stadium during the pandemic
- Pivac’s men suffered their worst Championship performance since 2007 in 2020
- But Wales are hoping their return to the capital will help ahead of the Six Nations
Wales want to turn their backs on their recent past, fired up by their return to Cardiff for the Six Nations.
Wayne Pivac’s men endured a terrible 2020, winning only against Italy – twice – and Georgia in 10 Tests while suffering their worst Championship performance since 2007.
But now back at their spiritual home having left Llanelli the Welsh believe they can upset the Six Nations apple cart.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac (L) is confident his side will be galvanised by their return to Cardiff after a dreadful run of form in 2020
Captain Alun Wyn Jones, entering his 15th tournament aged 35, is desperate to play at the Principality Stadium again.
‘It’s going to be nice to go back,’ he said.
‘It’s where I like to play rugby for Wales. Don’t ask me if I want the roof open or closed – I just want to be back in Cardiff!
‘Our prep will be back to normal – we don’t have to do things a little bit earlier, don’t have the extended drive down the M4.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones is desperate to play a part at the Principality Stadium again
‘Part of me is disappointed we didn’t make international history at Parc y Scarlets. We did for a bit of it, but probably wanted some more positive history.’
And Pivac reckons Wales’ return, having had to move out while the national stadium was a Nightingale Covid hospital, will galvanise his team.
‘For me there’s a big difference,’ said the head coach.
‘The vibe around the place, the space, the room, it’s familiar territory for all the players and it has all that history of Test rugby. It’s a fantastic place for the Welsh players and management to be.
‘We’re looking forward to getting back there. No crowds is a disappointment but the stadium is the home of Welsh rugby and that’s where we want to be.’
Pivac will rely on a swathe of experienced players for this tournament with Ken Owens, 34, Dan Lydiate, 33, and Josh Navidi, 30, returning to the fold alongside the likes of Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Dan Biggar and Taulupe Faletau who are all in their 30s.
Skipper Jones is fit again after knee troubles, and Pivac is delighted to be able to call upon his gnarled golden oldies.
Wales were forced to move out of their national stadium as it became a Nightingale Covid hospital last year
‘Alun Wyn could testify to the amount of work that he’s been doing in the last eight weeks,’ he said.
‘You wouldn’t think Alun Wyn has been out for too long at all if you look at him in training.
‘It’s very good to have Ken back in the camp. I know him well from Scarlets and he’s a very influential player for Scarlets and Wales.
‘He brings that experience, physicality which is needed for that position, and under pressure he makes very good decisions.
‘He’s a leader in his own right and to have him back is special in itself. He’ll add a lot of the squad.
‘With Josh in the past, when he has had time out of the game, he came back and played against England in the last Six Nations at Twickenham.
Pivac has the experienced Ken Owens back in the squad for the Six Nations next month
‘He’d been out for a number of weeks and we suspected he’d only last 50 or 60 minutes in that one.
‘He was playing so well and he ended up playing the 80 minutes. He’s an extraordinary player.
‘Not many people can do that but he’s one that has a huge engine and he can drive himself through that pain barrier that players have to go through.’
Up first is Ireland – who have not beaten Wales in Cardiff since 2013 – and their boss Andy Farrell expects the Welsh to be flying.
‘We expect nothing but Wales to be at their brilliant best come Sunday week.
‘I’ve no doubt that after the autumn they were back into camp over Christmas and showing. They’ll be very confident come the first game, I’ve no doubt.’
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