Durban - The last time Wales played a Test match they were humiliated by Italy and the next match they play will be against the world champion Springboks at altitude in Pretoria, and coach Wayne Pivac needs no reminding of the growing pressure on him.
Pivac named his squad to tour the Republic on Wednesday, while their opposition Springbok squad will only be revealed when the South African teams have completed the quarter-finals of the United Rugby Championship on June 3, whereupon the Boks go into camp in Pretoria on June 6 and remain together until the third Test against the Welsh July 16.
That means the Welsh have plenty of time to prepare and they will feel they need every minute of it given that they have won just four out of their last 12 games and have never won a match in South Africa.
New Zealand-born Pivac has already visited South Africa to scout training facilities and even met with Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.
“It was really good red wine and really good steak, I’ve got to say,” Pivac said of his dinner with the Bok bosses.
“They were great hosts. It was myself, Martyn Williams (team manager), and Paul Stridgeon (conditioning coach).
“We had a look at training grounds, gymnasiums, swimming pools, hotels, and like on any tour, you get a selection and we looked at where we wanted to be, travel distances, that sort of thing, and looked at what facilities would best prepare us for the Test matches.
“We had an evening off when we met up as two coaching groups. A lot of countries do that. They are a good bunch of guys, and we get on well.
“We had a great discussion on all things rugby and the pressures that come with it.
“Those (Bok) boys have been under some pressure as well as they had three losses on the bounce (in last year’s Rugby Championship, twice to Australia and then the first Test against the All Blacks).
“We discussed those things and how we deal with them and it’s also nice to have time away from the game.”
But the 59-year-old Pivac said that he is well aware of the growing pressure on him and the Welsh team as the 2023 World Cup grows ever closer.
“There is a lot of personal criticism but it doesn’t hurt because it is a job you know where everybody is watching your every move,” he said.
“I believed we were good enough to beat Italy in our last game. We had done enough work, and we could have won that game several times over.
“The fact is we didn’t, so you take what comes with that, and a lot of it is justified.”
Pivac says this June series is the last opportunity for some players to prove themselves before he settles on the squad that will take Wales to the World Cup.
“It’s probably the last step for a few players to show they can compete on a regular basis at this level,” he said.
“Before long we’re going to stop tinkering too much with selection. We’ll be looking to play our strongest side now through to the World Cup and we make no apologies for that.”