No need to panic for Pivac, says Gatland

London (AFP) –


Wales coach Wayne Pivac should get on with the job of building a side which can be contenders for the 2023 World Cup rather than listening to the critics, says his predecessor Warren Gatland.

Pivac's side host Scotland in their final Six Nations match -- postponed from March due to coronavirus -- on Saturday with last year's Grand Slam champions bidding for just their second win in this year's tournament.

The Wales camp have been saying the game is a "must win", but Gatland, who stepped down after guiding Wales to last year's World Cup semi-finals, takes issue with that.

They go into it on the back of a defeat in a warm-up game by an impressive France last weekend.

The departure of their defence coach Shaun Edwards to the France set-up has proved a huge loss with the Welsh shipping 15 tries in their Six Nations campaign compared to just seven last year.

"They're already talking about this game as a must-win game," Gatland told the BBC.

"Is it really a must-win game? The Six Nations is important but they're going to finish fourth or fifth so does it really matter?

"Use this autumn period to think about building towards the (next) Six Nations, developing players over the next two years and the World Cup is another factor."

Gatland -- who returned to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs -- has a keen interest too in Wales returning to form as he is due to coach the British & Irish Lions for the third time next year in South Africa.

Gatland roused the Welsh from a sleeping giant to guding them to three Six Nations Grand Slams, two World Cup semi-finals and a first stint at the top of the world rankings in his 12 year reign.

- 'A realistic view' -

The 57-year-old says his fellow Kiwi Pivac does not need quick fixes as he has been given the time thanks to the World Cup draw to try out different players and combinations.

"They've got the luxury and I don't know whether it's luck but the fact the World Cup draw has put them in a position when they ended up being top seeds," said Gatland.

"It takes a massive amount of pressure off them in their preparations for the next couple of years.

"Maybe the approach is you take a bit more of a realistic view, a more long-term view and what you're trying to develop, looking at combinations and gameplans, and forgetting about external pressures.

"That might be the way forward, and I know that from personal experience."

Gatland says Pivac will have learned quikcly that despite a successful stint as head coach of Welsh region Scarlets Test rugby is a "massive step up."

However, Pivac and his coaching team must close their ears to criticism form outside and get on with the job.

"That's what they need to think about -- forget about external pressure and make sure they're focused on what they want to achieve, first in the short term and then the long term," said Gatland.

"So forget about all the stuff people are saying about them and the pressure that's coming from the outside."