Six Nations 2021: Wales urged to toughen up ahead of Scotland clash as injuries take toll on squad with Lydiate ACL blow

GETHIN JENKINS wants patched-up Wales to keep improving in defence ahead of their trip to Scotland.

Wayne Pivac’s team started their Six Nations with an unconvincing victory over 14-man Ireland.

But the win came at a heavy cost with flanker Dan Lydiate suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee on his first return to Test rugby for three years.

Lydiate, 33, will miss the rest of the season.

Tomos Williams (hamstring) and Johnny Williams and Hallam Amos (both head injuries) are also out for Wales’ trip to Edinburgh on Saturday.

Head coach Pivac is also assessing the fitness of George North (eye) and Nick Tompkins (shoulder) but is set to add three new players to his squad today.

Uncapped centre Willis Halaholo, his Cardiff Blues team-mate and flanker James Botham, and scrum-half Lloyd Williams – also of the Blues – will all be called up.

Josh Adams is also banned after breaching the Covid-19 protocols while Jonathan Davies is nursing an ankle problem, but Scarlets full-back Liam Williams is a welcome returnee from suspension.

The Auckland-born Halaholo has been picked ahead of 34-year-old Jamie Roberts who was being considered by Pivac.

A potential call-up for Roberts was complicated by the fact his partner is heavily pregnant and the requirement for new Wales players to be Covid-19 tested.

Former Wales and British & Irish Lions prop Jenkins has been appointed as Wales’ new defence coach after Pivac brutally sacked Byron Hayward last year.

Jenkins won 129 caps for Wales and won three Six Nations Grand Slams in a glittering career which also included five Tests for the Lions.
He retired in 2018 and has made a quick transfer into coaching.

Jenkins, 40, said: “I’d like to think coming into this environment I’ve got a good handle on the players and where they want to go because I’ve been here so long.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’ve been involved in the system with Shaun so I've obviously learnt so much from that.

“A few people have said to me the defence was better against Ireland. For me it was an improvement.

"I wouldn’t say it was great. There are still a lot of areas we can work on.”

Scotland beat Wales in November and started their Six Nations with a famous win over England.

Jenkins said: “I’m really gutted for Dan.

"I played with him and I hope he gets well soon. It’s a tough pill to swallow for him and for us as a squad.

“We’ll be looking to see the options we’ve got to come in next.

“Scotland are a quality team. They have got powerful runners and they have been building.

“They were tough to play against in the autumn. They ground out a result against us and we want to put that right at the weekend.”

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