Wayne Pivac thinks mental toughness will be key for Wales against South Africa

Wales chief Wayne Pivac says mental toughness will be vital in three-Test series against world champions South Africa.

Just over three months after losing at home to Italy, Wales face Springboks at altitude in Pretoria next Saturday.

Matches in Bloemfontein and Cape Town will follow, with Wales returning to a country where they have never toppled their hosts at home.

Ten previous Tests in South Africa have all gone the way of the Springboks – averaging 41-14 – while Wales have won just four of the last 12 against all opponents.

“Nobody likes to end on a sour note with a bad performance,” said Pivac, referring to the Guinness Six Nations’ 22-21 loss to Italy in March.

“It’s a long time between glasses, as they say. For us, it’s about making sure we reflect on this time wisely.

“From a mental point of view too where you apply yourself, and you have to be mentally strong to go to South Africa for three Test matches.

Justin Tipuric scores a try for Wales in their 2016 win over South Africa (Joe Giddens/PA)

(PA Archive)

“We have to make sure that we give ourselves every chance.

“It’s not just a physical game that we need to be able to counter, but it’s also a mental game. We must ensure that we are up to this challenge.

Story tell us who didn’t do well there (in South Africa), clearly.

“We’ll do what we think we have to do to try to win the first test and then prepare for a big series.”

Wales will kick off their tour of South Africa at the Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria (David Davies/PA)

(PA Archive)

Wales’ recent home record against South Africa stands in stark contrast to their struggles on tour, having won four of the last five matches in Cardiff.

And Pivac knows his players need to start at Loftus Versfeld, where Wales’ three previous visits have produced defeats to the tune of 96-13 (1998), 53-18 (2004) and 37-21 (2008).

Reflecting on the home successes in the game, Pivac added: “I think in the past Wales have had a very good game on foot.

“And they had a really good defensive game and were able to negate some of South Africa’s strengths.

There’s gonna be a lot of kicking, a lot of banging

Wales manager Wayne Pivac

“I think the key is the day the only experience I had with the team against South Africa (last November) we had to make sure we could stop the line-up and try to stop scrum penalties.

“You also have to be good under the high ball. There’s going to be a lot of kicking, a lot of rattling, and you have to fight for everything in those areas of the game as well.

“Wales were good at it. Hopefully we will continue to be good at it, and that will put some pressure on them.

“We were embarrassed by this last performance (against Italy). There is no hiding from it.

“The players talked about it, the management talked about it, and we’re a better team than that.”

Wayne Pivac thinks mental toughness will be key for Wales against South Africa

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