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'The last step': Wales to play strongest team from now to the World Cup says Pivac

By PA
Wayne Pivac, head coach of Wales talks to their side following their defeat in the Six Nations Rugby match between Wales and Italy at Principality Stadium (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Wayne Pivac has indicated Wales’ South Africa tour this summer will effectively ramp up preparations for next year’s World Cup.

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Wales face the world champion Springboks in a three-Test series in July, returning to action following a dismal Six Nations campaign.

That tournament ended with Wales suffering a first home defeat against Italy, which hardly augers well for tackling South Africa.

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“It (tour) is the first step and the last step if you like,” Wales head coach Pivac said.

“It is probably the last step for a few players to show they can compete on a regular basis at this level.

“It’s probably the start of (when) we are not going to be tinkering too much with selection.

“We will be looking to play our strongest side now through to the World Cup, and we make no apologies for that.”

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Pivac, meanwhile, said that he has had “very, very positive” discussions with Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips.

“We certainly had a good discussion around the Six Nations,” he added.

“We do a normal review internally, our reports go through, and then obviously the powers that be have their discussions.

“My discussions I’ve had with Steve have been very, very positive and they have all been about preparing the side through to the World Cup.”

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The South Africa tour will take place against a back-drop of uncertainty in the Welsh professional game.

Among several proposals included in a report commissioned by the Professional Rugby Board to look at how best to move the game forward is a reduction in the number of regions from four to three.

Also reportedly being suggested is a merger between the Scarlets and the Ospreys, although the Swansea-based team have made it clear they would oppose this, while funding is an ongoing source of debate.

Pivac said: “The sooner we can get full alignment and everybody working for the common good, then I think that has got to be a positive, not only for the national team but also for the clubs.

“I know there are a lot of people who have got their heads down at the moment and trying to get the best possible solution for everybody going forward in Welsh rugby.

“I think there are some people in the game in Wales that know there needs to be some change. What that change is exactly, time will tell, or if it remains exactly the way it is and somehow we find some more funding.

“But I do know that everyone is working in the best interests of the game, and we want to pull together to make sure we get the best outcome for the national team and the clubs.”

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