WALES coach Wayne Pivac has recalled giant lock Adam Beard for the Grand Slam tilt in Paris, saying they will need every ounce of strength against the monster French pack.
Beard is six feet eight, weighs at 18 and a half stones, and is a more imposing physical specimen than the man who replaced him for last weekend’s 48-7 win over Italy, Cory Hill.
And Pivac made no bones about his view that size really does matter against a set of forwards he believes has overtaken South Africa as the biggest and most physical unit in world rugby.
Pivac said: “We think Adam has been playing well. He’s a big man and we’re up against big men.
"We gave him a little break last week because he’s had a heavy workload and he’d picked up a few minor knocks, but he’s spot on now.
"He’s done very well for us running the lineout, and using his bulk to good effect.
"Cory has come on and added an impact off the bench, so we’d like that to continue."
Beard for Hill is the only change to the side that cruised to victory in Rome, although Pivac has also added extra grunt to his bench, with Nicky Smith and James Botham named among the replacements.
He added: “Nicky Smith is a good scrummager and that experience will be crucial. James Botham gives us good cover across the back-row."
Beard, 25, is relieved to be back in the starting line-up, especially after being axed for the Autumn Nations Cup campaign at the end of last year.
He said: “It’s great to be back for the big one. It’s always a brilliant feeling to be playing for your country, and especially with a Grand Slam on the line.
“It was disappointing not to play against Italy, but it was one of those where I spoke to Wayne in the week off, as I had a little niggle from the England game.
“He just wanted to give me a rest and give other boys an opportunity – and to give Jake Ball his 50th cap off the bench.
“It’s crazy to find myself in this position.
"If you had said back in the autumn that I’d be playing in most games in the Six Nations coming up, and playing for the Grand Slam, I would have laughed at you, because I wasn’t in favour in camp.
“The message from Wayne was just to go back to club rugby, get that consistency of performance, and show us the quality of player that you were in the 2019 Six Nations.
“I wouldn’t say I dropped off that much at regional level. I just didn’t have the consistency. I’d have one good game and then an average game.
“So, it was just regaining the level of performance that would get me back in the squad, and put me up for selection.”
“It’s going to be one big physical game on Saturday and it’s definitely something we, as a pack of forwards and as a squad, are prepared for. We are looking forward to that battle.
“And we’re encouraged by the fact everyone in the starting line-up, apart from Louis Rees-Zammit , was part of the group that won the Grand Slam two years ago. And Zambo is a heck of an addition!
“That experience, and the knowledge that we’ve practically all been here before, is massive. We are in a good place."
Pivac said there is a mood of calm confidence in the Welsh squad, which has been particularly evident from his chats with skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
He explained: "No matter the level of the game, you want the input of the senior players. It’s about getting the balance.
"There’s a lot of little conversations that go on between coaches and players.
"And I know Alun Wyn has been speaking about bringing that vital mental energy on Saturday.
"You also want that experience of players who have done it before. It’s another game of rugby but there’s a big prize on the line.
"It’s about making sure each day, we get out of it what we need to."
“This week is about getting the boys to Saturday with a full tank of gas and not overtraining or overthinking things. And personally, I’m feeling pretty good to be in this position.
“I’m excited to see the boys with a bounce in their step. And as a group, we’re excited about the opportunity that’s on offer"
Source: Read Full Article