Wayne Pivac's wait is almost over.

For the best part of 18 months the former Auckland and North Harbour head coach sat patiently in the wings, watching, plotting, planning how to improve Wales.

Now, finally, as his first Six Nations nears, the chance to apply his extensive homework arrives.

After a trial run against the Barbarians last November, Pivac's first test comes in the form of Italy in Cardiff to open the jewel of Northern Hemisphere rugby on February 1.

Advertisement

"It's been a long time sitting in the background for me personally," Pivac said today at the Six Nations launch in London. "It's been a time where we can do a lot of planning looking ahead to the World Cup in 2023 but certainly this Six Nations is just around the corner now and everyone is excited by the opportunity.

"I've watched it from afar for many years. From an outsider's point of view, just the environment when I've gone and watched Six Nations games in Wales the whole build up if you're at the Principality in Cardiff the atmosphere is amazing.

"Southern Hemisphere you have to travel a bit more so you don't get the same mix of fans which brings something special.

"We're quietly confident we've got a good group of players together that are going to work really hard."

As he jumps from club to the unforgiving test arena, Pivac is savvy enough to let England coach Eddie Jones make the bold statements about becoming the "greatest rugby side the world has ever seen".

Following as he does Warren Gatland's legacy of four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams across an extended 12-year tenure there is no need to further raise expectations.

Pivac does, however, outline ambitions to change Wales' approach – to present more aesthetically pleasing pictures.

Winning last year's Six Nations with the joint-lowest tries says everything about Gatland's substance over style mentality which, to his credit, delivered results.

Advertisement

This era of Welsh rugby, though, is certain to embrace much more risk.

Everyone expects Pivac and Stephen Jones to favour the open width game they brought through at Scarlets. Whether such an approach will work at test level in the middle of winter is but one subplot this tournament will reveal.

"Wales won the competition last year playing the way they played. For any team to win you've got to be playing pretty well. We've come in, had a look and asked how can we add value?

"We're looking at the attack and evolving that over time. It won't happen overnight. When we went into the Scarlets it took a few years before we were comfortable. It will take time, but it's certainly something we're looking to evolve over a period."

Selecting former Crusaders finisher Johnny McNicholl and teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who has starred for Gloucester this season, confirms Pivac's attacking intent.

Experienced No 8 Taulupe Faletau and halfback Rhys Webb return to the squad and Pivac also delivered positive news on the injury front with Lions fullback Liam Williams and midfielder Owen Watkin due back for the round two trip to Dublin.

Sam Warburton's immediate inclusion as a specialist breakdown coach could be one trump card. Pivac had no hesitations including the former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain in his coaching team and believes his knowledge will prove invaluable.

"He wanted to know what entry point he could come into the game – whether that was under-20s or club. We had a meeting two days later and I felt he could add something right now with his experience. Already the enthusiasm he's going to bring and the experience that he has in the area of the breakdown and the decision-making process around that area is going to be very beneficial for us."

With England and Ireland away, Pivac faces a testing introduction but he was comfortable enough to set sights on winning successive championships, an achievement never before achieved by Wales.

"Therein lies the challenge for us. We'll be doing our upmost to create some history in the competition. It's going to be tough but the way the games are spaced out in terms of the order of the matches it's quite nice.

"Five years in Wales has been fantastic as a lead in to understanding the culture and what rugby means to the nation. It's very similar to New Zealand where rugby is the No 1 sport. It can change the vibe of a nation overnight with a good result.

"We understand the role we play in the community and certainly that was evident at Scarlets. Obviously everything goes up tenfold from a national point of view.

"It's very similar to New Zealand where rugby is the No 1 sport. It can change the vibe of a nation overnight with a good result.

"We understand the role we play in the community and certainly that was evident at Scarlets. Obviously everything goes up tenfold from a national point of view."