Wayne Pivac once again quizzed on Wales future

Wayne Pivac says he cannot allow himself to be sidetracked by speculation surrounding his future as Wales head coach.

Pivac goes into Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series finale against Australia at the Principality Stadium under huge pressure.

It follows an embarrassing 13-12 home defeat against Georgia last weekend, which came just eight months after Wales lost to annual Six Nations strugglers Italy in Cardiff.

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Wales have lost 19 of their 33 Tests since Pivac succeeded his fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland after the World Cup.

Whether Welsh Rugby Union chiefs decide on a change of head coach just 10 months out from the next global showcase remains to be seen, but there can be little doubt that Pivac’s job is now on the line.

“Other people make those decisions,” Pivac said. “What we do internally is make sure we prepare the best we can.

“I can’t get sidetracked by those sort of things. At the end of the day, it is the professional environment we are in.

“We know there is a lot at stake, clearly. We are here rolling our sleeves up this week to try and get the result everyone wants.”

Asked if there had been contact with his WRU bosses, Pivac added: “Just the usual. We have weekly contact in every camp, and this week has been no different.

“It’s just the standard, focusing on the here and now. We review campaigns at the end of the campaign, not during.

“So it is just standard things discussing what we are doing this week and how we can improve the performance – normal conversations we would have.

“It is very, very disappointing to be in this position. As head coach, the responsibility lies with me for a lot of the decision-making. I don’t shy away from that.

“What we do is look at what we can control. That has been every day we come in this week, maximizing how we get the team right mentally and physically.

“That has certainly been the focus of everyone this week. Players have been very honest in reviews and gone out and been physical in training.”

Ospreys center Joe Hawkins will make his Wales debut and lock Alun Wyn Jones has been recalled to the starting line-up to face Australia.

Hawkins, 20, steps in for Owen Watkin, who suffered a knee injury during the Georgia game.

World record cap holder and former Wales skipper Jones, meanwhile, replaces Ben Carter for a first international start since last season’s Six Nations Championship.

Elsewhere, full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns following a 16-month injury absence from the Wales team, and Gareth Anscombe features at fly-half.

Other changes see wing Rio Dyer back in action – Josh Adams drops to the replacements’ bench – and number eight Taulupe Faletau packing down for his 100th Wales and British and Irish Lions Test match appearance.

With Saturday’s game falling outside World Rugby’s autumn window, players like Gloucester back Louis Rees-Zammit, Saracens center Nick Tompkins and Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza are unavailable because they have not been released by their clubs for those fixtures.

Pivac added: “The whole squad is extremely disappointed with last week’s performance.

“It is not the result that anybody wanted, it is not the result that anyone expected.

“We have gone through a review process. We know what went wrong and what is required to get the result this weekend.

“Certainly, it is a side we’ve selected to get a result, which we are desperately seeking.

“We are playing an Australian side that will have a lot of changes for probably similar reasons to ourselves over the last month or so with injuries, but what we do know about Australia is that they are a dangerous side whatever team they put out.”

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