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Pivac insists Wales are relishing the challenge of taking on South Africa in their own backyard

‘Write us off at your peril’: Wayne Pivac insists Wales enjoy the daunting challenge of beating world champions South Africa in their own backyard…

  • Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations and lost to Italy for the first time
  • Now they are taking on South Africa’s ‘ultimate challenge’ in their own backyard
  • But Wales coach Wayne Pivac insists his team will thrive as underdogs

Wales set out on Thursday for the ‘ultimate challenge’ of facing South Africa in their own backyard, with Wayne Pivac’s rallying cry in their ears.

After his team’s fifth-placed Six Nations finish and embarrassing first home defeat to Italy, the task at hand against the World Cup holders looks like a daunting task for Wales head coach Pivac.

But on Tuesday, the pressure didn’t seem to weigh heavily on the former Auckland police officer as he circled the wagons, insisting his team thrive as underdogs.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has issued a rallying cry ahead of South Africa tour

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has issued a rallying cry ahead of South Africa tour

TEST SERIES

July 2nd

First test

South Africa v Wales

Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

KO 4:05 PM, Live on Sky Sports

July 9

Second test

South Africa v Wales

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

KO 4:05 PM, Live on Sky Sports

16th of July

Third test

South Africa v Wales

DHL Stadium, Cape Town

KO 4:05 PM, Live on Sky Sports

“If you write off someone in international rugby, you do so at your own risk,” Pivac said. “I think we are also written off in the 2021 Six Nations.

“You can look back on our Six Nations and a mediocre performance against Italy.

“But it’s the Welsh team that will come on the day that South Africa will face and we hope it will be a really good one.”

Against all odds, Wales claimed the Six Nations title last year, but the defense of that crown ended on a weak note with just one win over Scotland and the low that marked the turnaround in Italy.

Pivac’s side can’t get any worse than the performance they put in against the Azzurri in March, but they will have to be at their best to harass South Africa.

No Welsh side has ever won a Test series in the Rainbow Nation.

“We want to be successful on the tour and that means winning rugby matches,” said Pivac, who added young Scarlets fan Harri O’Connor to his tour party on Tuesday.

“If we win one, two or three, it would be a success compared to what happened in the past.

‘From our point of view it is a huge challenge. We play the World Champions in their own backyard at height in the first two Tests and for the first time since winning the World Cup in front of their own fans. They will be highly motivated. In Test rugby you want the ultimate challenge.

Dan Biggar to captain Wales in South Africa, despite Alun Wyn Jones in the squad

Dan Biggar to captain Wales in South Africa, despite Alun Wyn Jones in the squad

“This is probably the ultimate challenge with South Africa at height, us coming off the back of our Six Nations, and with where they are in their game.

“I think we will be one step further than where we were in our last game.”

O’Connor, who has only made one senior regional start, has been called up with first-choice tighthead Tomas Francis who has a back problem.

Pivac is confident Francis will be fit for the first Test.

Wales’ Springbok opener is on July 2.

Dan Biggar will be ready to lead his team in Pretoria after sustaining a back injury in Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership defeat to eventual champions Leicester earlier this month. South Africa’s preparations for Wales are already in full swing.

Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations and lost to Italy for the first time in their history

Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations and lost to Italy for the first time in their history

“I expect a desperate Welsh side,” said Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber.

“We’ve been desperate before as the Springboks, so I know how that feels. I think we’re probably going to have to deal with that.

“We will be going up against a team that is well prepared. They’ve had a lot of prep time to build this series and I think they’ll be well coached and desperate.”

Dai Flanagan has been appointed as the new head coach of Dragons in the Welsh region after leaving his assistant role with the Scarlets.

Flanagan – who has also worked in Pivac’s Wales line-up – is joining forces with current director of rugby Dean Ryan.

Former center of Wales, Hadleigh Parkes, will captain the Barbarians against Spain on Saturday. The invited side hammered Eddie Jones’ England 52-21 last weekend.

Former England back row Tom Wood will also take on Spain, as will Devin Toner, Scott Baldwin, Charlie Faumuina, Tim Nanai-Williams and Joe Tekori.

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