Wales captain Dan Biggar insists success is ‘second nature’ to this group of players… as Wayne Pivac’s side look to defend their Six Nations title without numerous star players
- Wales are the defending Six Nations champions but confidence is currently low
- The likes of Alun Wyn Jones, George North and Taulupe Faletau are all out
- Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets failed to win a single match in Europe
- Yet both Dan Biggar and Wayne Pivac were optimistic about their chances
One of the best skills Warren Gatland had as Wales coach was his ability to turn the water of poor domestic Welsh displays into the wine of Six Nations titles and Grand Slams.
It was a trick he repeated time and again over a decade. Now, Gatland’s fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac must try to conjure up a similar performance.
Wales might be the defending Six Nations champions but there is a divisive feel surrounding the country’s favourite sport again.
Wales captain Dan Biggar insists success is ‘second nature’ to this group of players
Wales might be the defending Six Nations champions but confidence is low at the moment
Dragons, Cardiff, Ospreys and Scarlets failed to win a single match in Europe this season, a situation which has led many to question if Welsh rugby is set up for the national team to thrive, as its four professional sides bumble along in mediocrity.
‘Over the last eight, nine or 10 years, when we’ve been reasonably successful in the Six Nations, it’s been a similar question about the regions not performing as well as they should,’ said Wales captain Dan Biggar.
‘We always seem to do OK. Ireland, England and France always start ahead of us with the bookies and the media.
‘But we’re fully aware of what we’re capable of. It really is just about belief. We’ve been lucky to have a fair bit of success and when you achieve that, it becomes second nature.’
Alun Wyn Jones is among the numerous star players who are currently unavailable for Wales
In the last 10 seasons, only one Welsh side has reached the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, so this season’s failure is certainly nothing new.
What is different though is that Pivac’s men will this time look to rally against such poor domestic form with the experienced core of their Test side injured.
Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric, George North, Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi and Leigh Halfpenny are all out and Wales’ home-based players are woefully short of form and sharpness, due to spells in quarantine and Covid-enforced match cancellations.
‘We’d like to have everyone performing at the top of their game and have the teams winning more than they are,’ said Pivac, whose men travel to Ireland a week on Saturday.
Wayne Pivac’s men travel to Ireland a week on Saturday to open up their Six Nations campaign
‘It’s not the ideal way to be coming into a camp, but we’ve selected players who have played extremely well for their country over a number of years.’
Biggar added: ‘We spoke on Monday about Covid, the clubs and the lack of game-time — none of those is an excuse.’
Meanwhile, England’s first opponents Scotland admit Eddie Jones’ team will be a different kettle of fish with Marcus Smith, and not Owen Farrell, guiding their ship.
Farrell had surgery on his right ankle yesterday, ruling him out of the Six Nations. It means Smith will now be the dominant force in the English back line.
England captain Owen Farrell has been ruled out of the Six Nations, Eddie Jones has revealed
The Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh will be Smith’s first in the Six Nations.
‘Marcus coming into a key position changes the dynamic of how England play,’ said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. ‘He’s got unique strengths and we saw them in the autumn, but the Six Nations is different.
‘England are going to have to bring Marcus into the game and show his strengths. We’ve got to negate that. Whatever team England put out, it will be a strong and confident side.’
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