Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will travel to France on Sunday for a World Cup reconnaissance mission as speculation continues to rage about his future in the job.
Whether Pivac stays in charge beyond the Autumn Nations Series, which Wales conclude against Australia on Saturday, remains to be seen.
Heading into the Wallabies clash, Wales have won just three Tests from 11 starts this year under his direction.
First run in Cardiff ✅
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 22, 2022
Those defeats include humiliating home losses to Italy and Georgia, and Pivac accepts that if he was outside the camp looking in “without having all the facts” he would be critical of some of the rugby Wales have been playing.
Pivac will visit Wales’ four World Cup pool stage venues – Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon and Nantes – and a potential quarter-final base of Marseille, with their tournament opener against Fiji just 10 months away.
But there are many in Wales who feel that whatever happens this weekend, his time might be up just three years after succeeding his fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland.
“There is always the big picture in the background,” Pivac said.
“Things go on for World Cup planning in the background. We are off to France on Sunday. Nothing changes in that respect.”
Asked if he felt his players were still performing for him, Pivac added: “It is a good question. We are always mindful of body language.
“We look at things which are very important. 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 around we’ve been in this situation before and we know what we have to do.
💪 Onto the weekend
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 24, 2022
“We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and go again, and that has certainly been the attitude of the players to my knowledge in terms of the training sessions and the team meetings we are a part of.”
Wales’ results this year have proved wildly erratic, with regular defeats being accompanied by a first victory over the Springboks in South Africa and beating another Rugby Championship team in Argentina.
Wales also won the 2021 Six Nations title under Pivac’s leadership, although for many that is now a distant memory.
“I am under pressure every week, and that is self-imposed pressure for the team to do well,” he added.
“If I was on the outside without having all the facts, but seeing this team play, then I would be critical of some of the rugby we’ve been playing. There is no doubt about that.
“History proves that it is not always plain-sailing, but it is about how you deal with those situations.
“This week has been a classic week of backs to the wall, and we want to rectify last week’s performance. To a player, they rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in.
“Seven days in this sport is a long time, and we have seen what has happened before when we have bounced back.
“We are working desperately hard to make sure we get the consistency in our game. We are our own worst enemy at the moment.”