Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will travel to France on Sunday for a World Cup scouting mission as speculation continues about his future in the profession.
It is not yet clear whether Pivac will remain in office beyond the Autumn Nations Series, which Wales concluded against Australia on Saturday.
Moving towards the Wallabies clash, Wales have won just three Tests out of 11 starts this year under his direction.
Those defeats include humiliating home losses against Italy and Georgia, and Pivac admits he would have criticized some of Wales’ rugby matches had he been outside the camp “without knowing all the facts”.
Pivac will visit Wales’ four World Cup pool stage venues (Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon and Nantes) and a potential quarter-final base, Marseille, with the opening of the tournament against Fiji in just 10 months.
But there are many in Wales who think that whatever happens this weekend, it may be just three years since New Zealand friend Warren Gatland replaced him.
“There’s always the big picture in the background,” Pivac said.
“Things are going on in the background for the World Cup planning. We’re going to France on Sunday. Nothing has changed in that respect.”
When asked if he feels his players are still performing for him, Pivac said, “That’s a good question. We always pay attention to body language.
“We are looking at very important things. If I felt that was the case then it would be something to discuss, but the reaction from the players this week has been nothing short of truly impeccable.
“Guys who have been around for a very long time like Dan Biggar, Alun Wyn (Jones) talk about us being in this situation before and we know what to do.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and get back on track, and that was certainly the attitude of the players in terms of training sessions and team meetings that we were a part of, as far as I know.”
Wales’ results this year have been wildly erratic, with regular defeats accompanied by a first victory over the Springboks in South Africa and beating another Rugby Championship team in Argentina.
Wales also won the 2021 Six Nations title under Pivac’s leadership, but that is now a distant memory for many.
“I’m under pressure every week and it’s the pressure I put on myself for the team to be successful.”
“If I was out without knowing all the facts but had seen this team play, I would criticize some of the rugby we played. There is no doubt about it.
“History proves that it isn’t always simple, but it’s about how you deal with these situations.
“This week has been a classic week where we were leaning against the wall and we want to fix our performance from last week. They rolled up their sleeves for an actor and went in.
“Seven days is a long time in this sport and when we came back we saw what had happened before.
“We’re working desperately hard to make sure we get consistency in our game. Right now, we’re our own worst enemy.”