Wayne Pivac, the new Welsh coach, and captain Alun Wyn Jones today revealed details of the key role Sam Warburton has been given in this season’s Six Nations championship defence which starts against Italy on February 1.
Pivac, who has replaced Warren Gatland as head coach, has assembled a new management team and opted to include recently retired Warburton, who was the captain under the former regime.
Pivac, the ex-Scarlets coach, said: “I sat down with a lot of people in the 12 month leading into the role and Sam was one of them. We spoke about some of the things he really relished and it became apparent to me very quickly in the conversation that he felt he still had a lot to offer.
“He wanted to know what point I felt he could come into the game at club level or U20 and we had a meeting two days later and I felt he could add something right now with his experience. The expertise at the breakdown and the experience around that area will be very beneficial.”
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Jones expanded on Warburton’s role saying: “We all know Sam’s qualities as a captain and now as a coach he will be two-pronged helping on the defence and tackle area but also with his mentoring of the young back row players in the squad and the regions. You need someone to guide those guys and that point of difference. That will be invaluable in helping those individuals put their hands up. It will be massive.”
Pivac revealed that young Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit could face Italy while Saracens Liam Williams won’t be fit until the second game against Ireland. He is also checking the fitness level of Toulon scrumhalf Rhys Webb who is back in the selection mix.
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He added: “It is now about rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. We have got a good group of players together. Louis will be back training today and then goes back to Gloucester and Liam is on for round two of the competition against Ireland but not the Italy game.
“Rhys Webb looked very sharp in training and he brings communication and experience and challenges other players which keeps everyone on their toes.
“Wales won the competition last season and what we have done ( as a coaching group) is had a look and asked how we can add value in areas and we are looking to evolve the attack over time and that won’t happen overnight.
“At the Scarlets it took a few years before we got to where we were comfortable but it is something we are looking to evolve over a period.
“I have watched the Six Nations from afar and when I have gone and watched games since being in Wales the atmosphere is special at the Principality Stadium and I am looking forward to being involved.”
Captain Jones said: “It is Wayne’s World now and I am looking forward to what is to come.”
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