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'As tough as it has ever been' - Wayne Pivac

By Paul Smith
Ben Smith hands off Wales' Tomos Williams to score New Zealand's fourth try in Tokyo (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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With three of the four Rugby Championship giants plus upwardly mobile Fiji due to visit Cardiff over a four-week period few would dispute that Wales face a hugely challenging autumn campaign.

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This view is shared by head coach Wayne Pivac who has told BBC’s Scrum V that his team’s schedule will be “as tough as it has ever been.”

To make matters doubly hard, the 59-year-old Kiwi’s team must not only face the huge test provided by his native New Zealand first, but do so without some significant squad members.

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The All Blacks visit the Principality Stadium on Saturday October 30 – outside the agreed international window. This means English-based players such as Bristol fly half Callum Sheedy and Gloucester’s British Lions’ wing Louis Rees-Zammit will be unavailable to Pivac even if they are fully fit.

“It’s going to be as tough as it has ever been,” Pivac said of a schedule which sees South Africa, Fiji and Australia arrive in consecutive weeks.

“It’s a good test on us, on our style of game we want to play, we are building towards a World Cup in 2023, we’re at the halfway stage.

“It’s a great time for us to come up against the southern hemisphere boys. At the World Cup we’ve got Fiji and Australia in our pool, so mentally for us those two games are massive for us.”

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Pivac will announce his squad selection in late October and with the World Cup in France still two years away he said plenty of opportunity exists for players to catch his eye through their club performances.

“Form is everything,” he said.

“There are few injuries about at the moment so some players won’t be able to be selected.

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“We’ve looked at around 50-odd players in the last two years, so it’s time for us to start nailing down 40 to 45 players of which 33 will come from that group for the World Cup.

“We are looking forward to naming that squad, getting back into training and challenging ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides.”

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'As tough as it has ever been' - Wayne Pivac

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