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Sport The Six Nations headlines as Sir Clive Woodward says Wayne Pivac's strong action over Josh Adams could prove turning point of his Wales reign

13:55  06 february  2021
13:55  06 february  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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It's kick-off day for the Six Nations and these are your rugby headlines for Saturday February 6

Woodward - Players have noted Pivac's 'decisive and strong' management

Sir Clive Woodward is tipping Wales to beat Ireland in Cardiff tomorrow and believes the 'strong action' taken by Wayne Pivac over Josh Adams could prove a turning point in his Welsh tenure.

Adams was thrown out of the Wales squad for a breach of Covid rules and misses the Irish opener and also next weekend's Murrayfield clash with Scotland.

And after a troubling first year at the helm, which has seen Wales' talented players look a shadow of the team they became under Warren Gatland, World Cup winning coach Woodward feels the Pivac stance on Adams could prove a sliding doors moment inside the dressing room.

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Pivac is under huge pressure to beat Ireland and start righting the wrongs of last year's Six Nations, which saw his side go from champions to second last, and a hugely underwhelming Autumn Nations Cup campaign.

What happened with Adams this week, says Woodward, can kick-start a change in fortunes and decent tournament for Pivac.

"I commend Wayne Pivac for his strong action in immediately banning Josh Adams," Woodward wrote in his column for the Mail. "Sport cannot be different to mainstream in this respect.

"Everybody must obey the laws and regulations at all times for us to beat the virus.

"Sport is funny and perverse and I wonder if this awkward situation he had to confront might not turn out to be a key moment for Pivac, who has been struggling in his first year.

'Pay up!' Bristol coach Pat Lam gives Wales some blunt advice on Dan Biggar, Callum Sheedy and the rest

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"He has been decisive and strong which will have been noted by the players and Louis Rees-Zammit is not exactly the worst replacement. It would be absolutely in keeping with the best traditions of the comic-book sporting idol for the Gloucester man to have a stormer and make a name for himself internationally.

"I'm tipping Wales. Despite the doom and gloom over the Severn, they still have the talent, the big names and the class. They have somehow contrived to find ways of not showing that recently and in that respect we should never underestimate how tricky it was always going to be after the Gatland/Edwards double act.

"But it's time for personal and national pride to kick in and if Wales perform as I expect them to, Ireland are going to be hard pressed to leave Cardiff on Sunday with anything."

Woodward tipped Justin Tipuric as Wales' likely Six Nations standout performer, saying: "I love watching this guy. He's one of the great modern-day flankers and is a vital player if Wales are to fulfil their potential with a wider game.

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"He will enjoy working alongside his old team-mate Taulupe Faletau, who he combined well with against Italy in the autumn."

Judge us after Sunday - Pivac

Under-fire Wayne Pivac believes his team will have the last laugh on their critics with victory over Ireland.

Wales won just three games under Pivac last year, and they have lost four on the bounce to Ireland, prompting a number of Irish pundits to predict an emphatic away victory in Cardiff.

But Pivac said: "Judge this team after Sunday with the comments that have been made.

"We know the pressure is building, if you like, in terms of expectations and results.

"But no one puts more expectation on results than the group themselves, and that is what people need to understand.

"So for us, this is what we do, and anybody can coach when you are winning.

"The challenges are when you are in situations where you haven't done as well as you would have liked, and hopefully this group is going to rise to that challenge."

You can read that story in full here

Farrell - We must put down title marker


Video: Wales v Ireland: Wayne Pivac press conference - in full (Wales Online)

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Andy Farrell says Ireland must make a statement of intent against Wales to demonstrate their Six Nations title credentials.

The Irish return to Cardiff on Sunday for the first time since a 25-7 defeat in 2019 saw Warren Gatland's Wales replace them as Grand Slam champions.

Head coach Farrell was unable to help his adopted country reclaim the crown during an inconsistent first year in the job, eventually finishing a prolonged tournament third behind England and France.

After twice comprehensively beating Wales in Dublin during 2020, Farrell wants Ireland to lay down a marker at the Principality Stadium to kickstart the quest for the title.

"We can talk about how well we've trained - I suppose every team does that - but it's about performance now," said Englishman Farrell.

"Starting off a competition well is key, getting the victory in the Six Nations is key. This is a competition that everyone wants to win at the start.

"The main thing for us is about the continuity of our performance, getting all of our bits right and making sure they all come together in the right format.

"Having a proper intent and showing our want to try and win this competition right from the get-go is key for us."

Wales' Davies body blow

Wales are braced to be without centre Jonathan Davies for their first two games of this season's tournament.

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Davies, who has won more than 80 caps and played in six Tests for the Lions, will miss Sunday's opener against Ireland due to an ankle injury.

And Wales head coach Wayne Pivac also expects him to be unavailable for next week's Murrayfield appointment with Scotland.

Wing George North will line up alongside Six Nations newcomer Johnny Williams in midfield against Ireland.

Davies was hurt during the Scarlets' Guinness PRO14 defeat against Cardiff Blues a fortnight ago.

"It's an ankle injury," Pivac said.

"We are predicting he will be out for this match, the Scottish match, and he will be back for England.

That clash with Eddie Jones' men takes place in Cardiff on February 27.

England 'white wave' warning for Scotland

Ben Youngs has warned Scotland of the "wave of white shirts" ready to engulf them in this afternoon's historic Calcutta Cup clash.

England launch their title defence with a Twickenham showdown steeped in tradition as the oldest rivalry in international rugby celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The occasion's historical context has been embraced by Eddie Jones' men, who are ready to display a unified sense of purpose in suffocating Scotland - and most importantly their fly-half magician Finn Russell.

While England's attack has rarely ignited over the past year, their ferocious defence has been a pillar of strength.

"When we are in sync and we have that synergy and are going after teams, it's a wave of white shirts," said Leicester scrum-half Youngs.

"Whenever a bloke has the ball he gets surrounded and it's great to be a part of that. You want to play your role. It's a big strength of ours and it gives us a huge amount of energy.

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"When the pack is going forward and rumbling, when our defence is where it needs to be, we are a very tough team to break down and get on the front foot against."

Hogg - We can make history

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg is excited by the prospect of creating history at Twickenham.

Gregor Townsend's side clinched Calcutta Cup success as recently as three years ago, but that triumph was on home turf and Scotland's wait for a victory at Twickenham stretches back to 1983.

Captain Hogg said: "For us it is another opportunity to represent Scotland and another chance to create our own bit of history.

"We feel we have prepared well and we are in a good place, but it counts for nothing unless we turn up.

"It is the 150th year of the game and a special occasion, but hopefully one where we can create a little bit of history in."

Scotland have made big strides in recent years and are eager to marry up a watertight defence with attacking flair led by fly-half Finn Russell.

It was a talismanic performance by the Racing 92 ace at Twickenham in 2019 which secured an unlikely 38-38 draw for the visitors despite trailing by 31 points in the first half.

A poor start, like was the case four years ago in a record-equalling defeat, put Scotland on the back foot on that day but Hogg wants a "new chapter" to get under way this weekend on a positive note.

"I think the good thing for us is we have a lot of experience in squad, those who have been there through the tough times and been there through the good times as well," he said.

"We have a lot of exciting young talent coming through that have kept the others on our toes. I think the beauty of this is we can't change anything that has happened in the past. We are very much in control of what will happen in the future.

"It is pointless to look back. Yes we can take a lot of experience from it but we're ready to move on and start a new chapter."

The Wales XV likely to be chosen against England as big guns return and Wayne Pivac has massive decisions to make .
Victory over Scotland in a dramatic clash at Murrayfield has left Wales heading into round three against England targeting the Triple Crown and they will have plenty of selection optionsBut they’ve ridden their luck and earned the right to have a shot at a trophy.

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