Alun Wyn Jones has praised Wales boss Wayne Pivac for sticking to his guns and blooding new talent during the autumn campaign.

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Wales complete their Autumn Nations Cup schedule against Italy on Saturday, having won just twice in nine starts this year.

The highest Nations Cup placing they can secure is fifth, finishing well away from the business end of a tournament that concludes with Sunday’s final between England and France.

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Shaun Edwards is utterly ruthless:

Pivac, though, has been unswerving in his commitment to developing potential 2023 World Cup players.

And that has been underlined with the emergence in recent weeks at international level of prospects like Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit, Scarlets centre Johnny Williams, Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy, plus Cardiff Blues flankers Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham.

“You have to give credit to Wayne,” Wales captain Jones said.

“I know I am inside the tent, so I can add that element of bias, but when you strip it back and look at the decisions of the management, he has stuck to his guns and continued to give people opportunities.

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“In a few of the games we’ve had he could probably have gone safe and reverted to type by selecting people who have played before. He has stuck to his guns and given opportunity.

“There are a lot of people who were injured and omitted from this squad selection, and there is still a layer of player who will be chomping at the bit through the Christmas (Guinness PRO14) derbies to get back into the squad for the Six Nations.

“It is good when you see young guys coming in and asking the right questions. They have not been found wanting.

“From a spectator and an outsider’s point of view, you only see the 80 minutes. I am fortunate to see how they operate and their application.

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“For them to bring that energy is great. They still struggle to keep up with me, but that is a work-on for them!

“Eight or nine new caps, previously you would not see that in two years. It could be a watershed moment in the way the new regime does kick on.

“You have to give credit to someone in a leadership and management role like Wayne. He could have gone safe, but he has stuck to his mantra and has done what he said he would do at the outset of this campaign.”

Jones will make his 152nd Test match appearance this weekend – an ongoing world record – and at 35, his renowned work ethic shows no sign of dwindling.

He remains Wales’ go-to player, and no-one is better equipped to lead Wales out of a difficult results period than the Ospreys lock.

“I have the fortune and misfortune of being in similar positions before, and you do come out of it,” Jones added.

“I am comfortable with the fact that if my performances aren’t up to scratch, they will be as scrutinised as anybody else’s.

“Having been involved for a while now, (I realise) certain people need a poke and certain people need an arm around them. There is time for a rocket, but there is time for a level head as well.

“You can be very reactive in times like these, which can be dangerous.

“Having someone at the head of the ship, who is continuing with a theme and backing what they say, I am comfortable to follow suit with that and support that.”

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