Wayne Pivac is due to fly out to France on a World Cup reconnaissance on Sunday despite the feverish speculation that he could lose his job if Wales do not beat Australia on Saturday.
Since the shock defeat against Georgia last weekend, there have been calls, including from at least one past captain, for the Kiwi to be relieved of his post.
But when naming his side on Thursday to face the Wallabies in Wales’s final autumn international, Pivac repeated the same line when asked about being sacked – “other people make those decisions” – while projecting the demeanour of a head coach who is fairly secure in their role, saying it is business as usual and that he will be heading across the channel the day after this supposed “must win” game.
“Things are going on with World Cup planning in the background,” Pivac said, after claiming that his communication with his Welsh Rugby Union bosses has been no different than normal. “We’re off to France on Sunday. Nothing changes in that respect.
“We will go to the four pool venues and quarter-final venues. It’s a whistle-stop tour. You have to select hotels, training venues, recovery pools, all those sorts of things.”
There is certain to be an outcry in the country if Wales suffer their ninth defeat from 12 games in 2022.
Warren Gatland, Pivac’s predecessor, oversaw nine losses in 2010, but they did not include humiliating reversals against not only Georgia but Italy too.
If Wales fall short again it will be fair to surmise that this is their worst 12 months since 2007, an awful run that saw Gareth Jenkins fired after being knocked out by Fiji in the World Cup group stages.
Should Pivac receive his marching orders, the symmetry will be hard to avoid.
Jenkins was fired in a French car park on the way home. Could Pivac be handed his P45 on the tarmac as he is about to take off for France?
Gwyn Jones, the former captain, believes he should. “I think he’s out of depth at this level and I don’t see Wales developing,” he said.
For his part, Pivac said he “100 per cent” understood why the query of his ongoing employment was being raised. “If I was on the outside, without all the information, on the straight results, I’d be asking the same questions,” he said.
“It’s very, very disappointing to be in this position and I have to say that was a pretty low moment. But as head coach, the responsibility lies with me for a lot of the decision-making. I don’t shy away from that.”
'We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and go again'
The assumption is that he is safe if Wales prevail against Australia, and he summarily batted away whispers of him losing the dressing room.
“It’s a good question,” he said. “If I felt that was the case, then it would be a discussion to have, but the reaction of the players this week has been nothing but faultless really.
“Guys like Dan Biggar, Alun Wyn [Jones], who have been around a very long time speaking about how we’ve been in this situation before and we know what we have to do.
“We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and go again. That’s certainly been the attitude of the players to my knowledge. Tuesday and today were some of our best training sessions in camp.”
Pivac has recalled Jones, the 37-year-old, into the engine room at lock, with another veteran, in Leigh Halfpenny, starting at full-back in the wake of Louis Rees Zammit being called back to Gloucester due to this match falling outside of the agreed international window. With options limited, highly-rated 20-year-old Joe Hawkins comes in at inside centre.