McGeechan wants Wales to lean on experience

Embracing experience will hold the key for Wales in the Guinness Six Nations.

Embracing experience will hold the key for Wales in the Guinness Six Nations.

That’s the view of legendary coach Sir Ian McGeechan as Wayne Pivac plots the path to improvement on last year’s fifth-placed finish in the Championship.

The Kiwi handed debuts to the likes of teenagers Ioan Lloyd and Louis Rees-Zammit in the early stages of his reign but McGeechan thinks it’s time for wizened old heads.

“I think Pivac recognises that this is a time for experienced heads to steady the ship,” said Sir Ian in his Sunday Telegraph column.

“Wales have huge amounts of experience in their squad. Just look at the pack: Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Lydiate, Josh Navidi, Taulupe Faletau.

“They could play blindfolded. They key for Wales is to define a tactical approach now and develop it.

“To consistently create the platforms from which to play with Pivac’s more attacking game they have to find the right balance of discipline and organisation.”

In a nod to the value of experience, the 2019 Grand Slam winners have brought 33-year-old Dan Lydiate back into the fold for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

Lydiate looks set to add to his haul of 64 caps after more than two years away from Test rugby and Josh Navidi’s return significantly strengthens the back row.

After beating Italy 42-0 in Round 1 of the 2020 Championship, Pivac’s side suffered four successive defeats and scored only eight tries in those losses to make it a campaign to forget.

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Starting against Ireland on 7 February, McGeechan wants to see Wales’s defence stiffen as Pivac tries to replicate the running rugby his Scarlets sides were famous for.

“Last year Wales went too far, became too loose, and lost the solidity and organisation they had built up over a decade under Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards,” he said.

“It was their work without the ball which made Wales so good for so long.

“It’s a massive game first up against Ireland that they have to win.”