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Pivac pleased with Evans progress and explains back row duo's omission

International | 20th January 2021

Wayne Pivac has been pleased with Jarrod Evans’ progress, with the outside half rewarded for his recent form by being recalled into the Wales squad for the Guinness Six Nations campaign.

The six-times capped playmaker was named Guinness Player of the Match as he inspired Cardiff Blues to victory over Scarlets last week.

Wales head coach Pivac says Evans has been hard at work on the training ground and reveals he offers a lot in both attack and defence.

“Jarrod has been brought in after he was left out of the autumn series,” explained the New Zealander.

“He’s been given parts of his game to work on, which is basically the kicking side of his game, and Neil Jenkins has been involved in that side of the process, as well as Stephen Jones.

“He’s been working solidly behind-the-scenes on that, so we’re interested to see how that’s developing.

“He comes in and we know about his running game, we know that he’s a gutsy defender.”

Two players who could be considered unlucky to miss out on selection are academy graduates, Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham, with both impressing during the Autumn Nations Cup.

With Dan Lydiate and uncapped Scarlets back row Josh Macleod called into the squad, the head coach has explained the Cardiff duo’s omission but admits it was a close call.

Pivac added: “They [Lewis-Hughes and Botham] were obviously in our discussions and both players have been spoken to.

“In terms of James, Josh Macleod was the original selection for the Six Nations last year but unfortunately got injured the day before, against Glasgow, so we feel he deserves an opportunity.

“James did well when he came in and he has a big future in the game but at the moment we feel that Josh is  that little bit further ahead in his physicality and we’re going to need that in the Six Nations.

“Shane Lewis-Hughes was another interesting discussion and I’ve spoken about the experience that Dan brings and his form at the moment.

“Shane, when we looked at putting the squad together, there was probably a choice between the experienced player in-form and a young man. In terms of this particular competition, and what we want to get out of it, we then looked at the other players who can play six and in multiple positions like Josh Navidi and Aaron Wainwright.

“They bring more experience in other positions so in terms of the balance of the loose forwards, that’s why we’ve gone that way.