Wayne Pivac says he wants to stay as Wales head coach, despite another damaging defeat that will inevitably intensify speculation about his future.
Wales conceded 26 unanswered points during the final 22 minutes to injury-hit Australia as the Wallabies claimed a spectacular 39-34 Autumn Nations Series victory in Cardiff.
The loss was Wales’ ninth reversal in 12 Tests this year and the 20th of Pivac’s three-year reign.
And there are many who feel that his time is up, with the man he succeeded as Wales boss – fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland – being tipped as an interim boss for the next 12 months, incorporating the 2023 World Cup.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that (leading Wales to the World Cup),” Pivac told Amazon Prime.
“The heat was on me during the week, I had to try and take it off the boys and they played large parts of that game exactly as we wanted them to.
“We review every competition, and we will do that and we have to take the positives out of the competition. Things that did not go well we can iron out.
“I certainly want to stay. You saw today when we get things right we are a dangerous team.
“We have more players to come back into the side, and the rest is up to other people.”
Asked in his post-match press conference about Wales’ record this year, Pivac added: “I am just interested in talking about today and getting over what has just happened.
“It’s disappointing, the result, but there was a lot of good stuff to take out of that game which is a positive for us moving forward.”
Pressed on whether it was enough to keep his job, he said: “That’s for someone else to comment on. I am contracted through to the Rugby World Cup.”
Pivac, meanwhile, confirmed he will be travelling to France on Sunday for a World Cup reconnaissance mission that includes assessing Wales’ four pool-stage venues of Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon and Nantes.
Seven days after a humiliating home defeat against Georgia, Wales were cruising to victory with a 34-13 lead after 58 minutes.
But the Wallabies somehow turned things around, helped by Wales captain Justin Tipuric and substitute hooker Ryan Elias being yellow-carded seven minutes apart during a frenzied final quarter.
Flanker Jac Morgan scored two tries for Wales, while there were also touchdowns for number eight Taulupe Faletau and wing Rio Dyer, with fly-half Gareth Anscombe adding four conversions and two penalties.
But Australia, who were without the likes of key players Michael Hooper, Nic White and Taniela Tupou, delivered tries for hooker Folua Fainga’a and Mark Nawaqanitawase, before the winger added a second touchdown, while they also gained a penalty try and Lachlan Lonergan’s 79th-minute try sealed the comeback.
Fly-half Ben Donaldson kicked a conversion and two penalties, and Noah Lolesio booted two late conversions to leave Wales crestfallen.
“We just have to keep believing and working, because I think everyone would agree on that particular performance today, there was a marked improvement,” Pivac said.
“I am just focusing on our team and what we asked for during the week and what the players wanted to deliver on, and I felt they did that for the majority of the game.
“It is one of those ones which is very tough to take. But rugby can be very cruel at times.
“There is a little bit of luck in this game as well. We won the competition (2021 Six Nations) with a little bit of luck going our way, and it feels at the moment, in tight situations, it hasn’t.”
Reflecting on his yellow card, which was handed out following a trip on Australian replacement Pete Samu, Tipuric said: “I was turning and he kicked my foot. Pete flew out of nowhere.
“As a back-rower, sometimes you do a bit of dirty work and deserve a yellow card, but that was one where it feels like things aren’t going your way.”
Reflecting on his team’s extraordinary fightback, Australia head coach Dave Rennie said: “I am the eternal optimist.
“What was key was we had all the momentum in the last 20 minutes.
“Honestly, I genuinely felt, with 20 minutes to go and we were down by 21 points, there was plenty of time.
“We just needed to get it to the right end of the field and apply some pressure.”