As Pivac announced his side to face the English this weekend, there were a few notable inclusions from a youth and progression perspective... However, the most important decision Pivac has made going into this huge clash, is the re-introduction of Lloyd Williams; Wales' forgotten man from four years ago.
Even though there have been some howlers, up and down the full 23 setup, Wales' main issue has been their lack of a functioning attack. A lot of folks have deduced this being from poor breakdown commitment, a lack of cohesion in the back line and a misfiring lineout; I would throw my hat in the ring and say that it's a half back problem. Gareth Davies is a world class Scrum Half and has been one of Wales' best assets over the past few years, but I feel he doesn't fit the Pivac style of Rugby.
Take Ben Youngs for England as an example. I think most would agree that he's far from being the most talented half back England have had to offer over the past few years. However, he IS the best system half back that we currently have in the country. He's a solid box kicker; one capable of regularly avoiding silly errors like miss-kicking the ball out on the full and getting charged down. He uses the big ball carriers around the fringes and gives them autonomy in the opposition 22. He chooses to loop/pop the ball from the back of a scrum, lineout or breakdown so that the stand off receives delicate, error-free service (he's not like a Joe Simpson-type who can fire it out at speed but perhaps with too much power). He is happy to go two or three games without sniping around the fringes, just to earn plaudits when he throws the opposition off guard and makes a surprise break in the fourth test; perhaps even a little unpredictable in that sense. Admittedly, he comes unstuck against world class 9's such as De Klerk and Dupont, but that might be because he sticks TOO much to the gameplan; not necessarily a personnel error.
I believe Williams to be in the same kettle of fish. Williams is a great system player; he will provide excellent service, kick well, put in tackles around the fringes as needed and marshal the forwards effectively. Most importantly, he will do what Pivac wants. If Pivac truly has a plan and style that he wants to implement into this backline, it HAS to show in this game. He's tried different combinations; he's given whippets and explosive scrum halves a go such as Webb and Davies, he's tried to give youth and flair a run out with Hardy, perhaps it's time to revert back to the traditional 9 stereotype. Pivac wants precise, but free-flowing backs Rugby; he wants to play with width, to use flashy centres and give Wales some gas again. At the moment, the stumbling block has been getting it out of the 9 and 10 channels quickly and repeatedly.
There will be a lot of pressure on Biggar this weekend, perhaps the most in his career. With Sheedy breathing down his neck, Patchell a possibility at 10, he NEEDS to get his house in order....Decide whether he wants depth and width, or to keep it tight and flat; not half and half like the last few months. Williams will be an enabler for that and will be the most important man for Biggar, and the rest of this Welsh team, on the pitch.