Press Conference: Wayne Pivac and Alun Wyn Jones

Wayne Pivac Press Conference
Wayne Pivac was delighted with the heart his players showed as Wales fought back to beat Ireland 21-16 in Cardiff – even if the game kept him on the edge of his seat.

Wayne Pivac was delighted with the heart his players showed as Wales fought back to beat Ireland 21-16 in Cardiff – even if the game kept him on the edge of his seat.

The hosts appeared to be in control when they went 6-0 ahead after Peter O’Mahony was sent off in the 14th minute in their opening game of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

But Ireland responded with a Tadhg Beirne try and Johnny Sexton’s boot to lead 13-6 at the break before second-half tries from George North and Louis Rees-Zammit secured victory for Wales.

And having only secured one win during his first Championship in charge last year, Pivac stressed that getting the four points was all that mattered after an enthralling contest.

“It was one of those games that kept us on the edge of our seats to be honest,” he said in his post-match press conference.

“Obviously we missed the supporters and it would have been lovely to have a full house there [at Principality Stadium] but it’s not the way of the world at the moment so it is different.

“That game had a bit of everything and kept everyone on their toes. With the amount of coming and going from the sidelines with injuries it had pretty much everything.”

He continued: “We’re wanting to win whenever we take the field and to get the win, even in circumstances like this afternoon, it’s important as we’re looking at this competition.

“Not the wins and losses since taking over the role, it’s really about this competition. This was day one, Round 1 and very important that we got a win – so we’re happy we’ve done that.

“Now we’ve got to refocus as we’ve got the six-day turnaround and a very, very confident, strong Scotland squad to go and play in their own back yard.”

Pivac acknowledged that Wales still have plenty of areas to work on but he took plenty of encouragement from the way George North is settling into his role in the centres.

“We think he [George North] is going to make a very good centre,” he said. “He’s still learning the position, obviously but on the evidence of today it would suggest he’s learning pretty quickly.

“I thought he defended well, he took his scoring opportunity when it came and he played on through a couple of injuries, he got a finger in the eye that he lost sight for a while.

“He had a bit of haziness through a scratch I think so we’ll get that checked out but he is one who is going to keep growing into that position I’m sure.”

Special praise was also reserved for the experienced trio of Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Josh Navidi, who Pivac believes more than justified their selection in the squad.

“We were asked earlier in the week around Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Josh Navidi and selecting those three but we know a lot about those players,” he said.

“We know how much rugby they’ve played, the size of their engines, their hearts, all three of them played more minutes that we anticipated, it was just the nature of the game.

“It was the way it turned out but all three of them, I can assure you that if they weren’t putting in the hard yards at the latter part of the game would have been subbed.

“They were doing what they were doing at the start of the game, in fact some of them were improving as the game went on and I thought all three of them were superb.”

Jones: Wales starting to turn a corner after Ireland win

Skipper Jones was his usual relentless self on the Principality Stadium pitch and after putting in a big defensive shift, he hailed his team for their work ethic over the 80 minutes.

“We showed character, especially in that middle third and in the latter stages of the game, and it was a tight finish in the end but we managed to come through,” he said.

“We probably defended for longer periods than we would have liked. Elements of that came off the back of the card as we didn’t want to give them too many opportunities.

“There were a couple of penalties that we gave away they put them in the ascendancy but I’m proud of the boys for their application, especially in defence.”