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Pivac calls on half back duo to pick up where they left off

International | 15th July 2021

Wayne Pivac has called on the half back partnership of Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans to pick up where they left off, as they prepare to start together for the first time in Wales colours.

The Cardiff duo were lively from the bench as Wales mounted a comeback to draw against Argentina last week, and are among seven changes made to the starting XV for the series finale at Principality Stadium.

Pivac hops to see Williams and Evans giving Wales an attacking edge against Los Pumas as they look to sign off a long season with a win.

“I’m looking for more of the same, really. We want to be able to make good decisions in terms of what we do with the ball and we want to be able to stress their defence,” said the Wales head coach.

“Both those players had a strong game when they came on. We were always going to mix and match when it came to our half backs, to be honest, from the first game to this game and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“All three of the main nines that we’ve used have picked up injuries at different stages since we’ve taken over.

“So no one has really had a run of games, through no-one’s fault.

“In this particular campaign, we wanted to give both nines an opportunity because we see them both playing a role going forwards and with Gareth being away with the Lions. 

“We’ve given them similar amount of game-time and we think the way they finished the game that they deserved to start this week.

“We’ll ask Kieran [Hardy] and Callum [Sheedy] to come off the bench and inject something as they’ve done in the past.”

A total of nine Cardiff players are included in the matchday 23, including lock Matthew Screech, who is in-line for his Test debut, and Josh Turnbull, making his first start since 2018 on the international stage.

After a stand-out season for his club, Pivac backs Turnbull to carry his Cardiff form to Welsh colours as he slots into the back row in the absence of Aaron Wainwright.

The head coach added: “Again it’s an opportunity created through injuries or misfortunes for others as well as selections for the Lions.

“Josh has worked hard in club rugby over the last few years and he’s played in each match and came on early in the last match.

“With Aaron out, it presents an opportunity for him and Josh is really looking forward to it.

“It’s going to be a big test, a big challenge and I think the weather will play a big part as well.”

Saturday will signal the end of a long, yet memorable, 2020/21 season for Wales. 

While delighted to secure the Guinness Six Nations title earlier this year, Pivac has been equally proud of the work to develop the next generation of international stars, with a number of players including James Botham, Ben Thomas, Willis Halaholo and Shane Lewis-Hughes making their Test debuts.

The former Scarlets coach explained: “For our players who have trained well, it’s the last opportunity for us to look at them against quality opposition.

“We always planned as a group to get as many of them out there as we could and we’ve learnt a lot in these last four weeks.

“For some of them now, it’s about putting it to the acid test against a tier one nation.

“It’s been a long season, it’s been different and it’s been one that’s new to all of us with Covid and the changes we’ve had to make. We’ve had to adapt a lot and we’ve spoken a lot about that within the camp.

“The autumn series feels like it was years ago to be honest but, upon reflection after the weekend, it will be a season where we’re very happy that we’ve been able to win the Six Nations and also do a lot of development work throughout the autumn and summer series.

“It bodes well for the future in terms of building depth and we saw at the last World Cup that you are going to have injuries and you have to have players with experience coming in.

“If we can players with 10, 15 or 20 Test matches under their belts from the last World Cup up to this one then that will serve a purpose.”