Tuesday, November 22, 2022

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent

Neil Jenkins says “there is no hiding place” for Wales in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series finale against Australia.

Wales tackle the Wallabies seven days after losing at home to Georgia – a result that has piled pressure on head coach Wayne Pivac.

Pivac has won just 13 of his 33 Tests in charge since he succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland after the 2019 World Cup.

And while there have been major highs, such as winning the 2021 Six Nations title and defeating the Springboks in South Africa, Georgia’s success came just eight months after Italy triumphed in Cardiff.

Wales have won their last three Tests against Australia, but even a fourth victory on the bounce might not be enough to appease Pivac’s critics.

“It’s tough – I am not not going to lie,” Wales assistant coach Jenkins said.

“It is incredibly disappointing, which is probably putting it lightly. It’s one of the darkest days, but you have got to go again.

Wales v Italy – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium
Italy stunned Wales in March (David Davies/PA)

“We’ve got another Test match on Saturday, and it is important that we turn up and front up.

“We don’t want to be in that position. We don’t want Wayne in that position. None of us want to be in that position.

“It is important that collectively – players, staff, everyone – come together quickly, which I think we’ve done, and turn up on Saturday.

“There is no hiding place. We need to be ready to go on Saturday.

 

“It is horrific, absolutely horrific. I am a passionate Welshman. I am desperate for Wales to do well.

“It could be tiddlywinks, I want Wales to win and be successful. Whether I’m involved in that or not is irrelevant to me, I want Wales to be successful.

“I want to win Test matches. That is what I am here for, to be successful and win. I am desperate to win – starting on Saturday.”

Georgia, courtesy of substitute Luka Matkava’s 78th-minute penalty, followed fellow underdogs Romania (1988), Canada (1993) and Samoa (2012) in embarrassing Wales on home soil.

And Pivac’s cause against Australia is not helped by the game falling outside World Rugby’s autumn fixture window.

That means players not based in Wales – the list includes Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit, Saracens centre Nick Tompkins and Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza – are unavailable.

Jenkins added: “You have got to look at yourself, it doesn’t matter whether you are playing, coaching, whatever part of the staff you are involved in, and ask if you did enough to win a Test match.

“You don’t want to be in that position (Italy defeat) again, do you? That was March and this is November, and we are back in the same position again.

Nick Tompkins
Centre Nick Tompkins is among the Wales players unavailable to face Australia (Joe Giddens/PA)

“We fronted up in South Africa during the summer, and we fronted up after New Zealand (by beating Argentina).

“We don’t want to keep fronting up because of a poor display or a poor result. You want to be building some momentum.

“At this level, you have to be consistent. It is a massive part of Test match rugby.

“You need that confidence of winning and getting over the line. How you win is irrelevant.

“You don’t tend to see how well a team plays when you look back on history, but how often they won and whether they got a Grand Slam or a World Cup.

“It is often about the end result and how you get there.”

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