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The Wales players Wayne Pivac will be sweating over this weekend after England-based contingent forced to leave camp

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Wayne Pivac faces an anxious weekend as five Wales players head into action in the Gallagher Premiership, including Dan Biggar, Tomas Francis and Taulupe Faletau.

The coach will be dreading his phone ringing with bad news on the injury front.

Biggar and Co have had to go back to their clubs in England despite concerns over exiting Wales’ Covid bubble, increasing the risks of contracting the virus or having to self-isolate if another close contact player tests positive.

Pivac had suggested it “would be sensible for everyone in the current climate” if the players stayed within the Wales set-up during fallow Six Nations weeks, but the English clubs who employ them haven’t relented, with Pat Lam pointing out the simple solution would be for the Welsh Rugby Union to pay for the players to be released.

Whatever, these are the five Wales squad members who’ll take the field this weekend, with suggestions of what Pivac will hope for and want to see from them.

Dan Biggar

The vastly experienced fly-half lines up for Northampton Saints against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

He’ll actually be glad of the game-time.

A player who thrives on rugby, he has played just twice for his club in 2020-21, with his last outing coming against Worcester Warriors on Boxing Day.

He played the house down that day, inspiring Northampton to end a run of eight consecutive home defeats in the Gallagher Premiership. Not only did Biggar score a try, he also set one up, made two clean breaks and won a turnover. It was vintage Biggar.

Pivac will hope to see more evidence of such form.

There’s no point in Wales’ coach telling Biggar to play within himself, with the former Osprey knowing only one way to play. For anyone wondering, that doesn’t involve dropping down a gear and trying to hide.

As for the opposition, Louis Rees-Zammit does not feature in the matchday 23 for Gloucester.

Callum Sheedy

Pat Lam has handed the No. 10 shirt to Ioan Lloyd for the Friday evening game between Bristol and Bath at Ashton Gate (7.45pm kick-off).

It’ll be a move which will interest Pivac.


Video: Wayne Pivac reveals why Rhys Webb was dropped for the Six Nations (Wales Online)

Lloyd may not have made the cut for Wales’ Six Nations squad but he has huge promise and is seen by some as a potential Test No. 10 in the years ahead. Pat Lam has tipped him to become “world-class”.

Sheedy is named on the bench, presumably as he’s been with Wales for much of this week preparing for the Six Nations.

If he gets on, Pivac will look for a confidence-boosting effort from the Cardiff-born player ahead of his return to the Wales set-up.

Taulupe Faletau

Earlier this week, Bath coach Stuart Hooper hinted that Faletau wouldn’t start against Bristol, saying: “Having a Friday game is the hardest scenario [because players only return on a Wednesday or Thursday from international camp]. It is a balance.”

He went on to say he was in contact with Wayne Pivac about Faletau’s training load for the week and any call he’d make would factor in such a consideration.

Sure enough, Faletau is on the bench for the date at Ashton Gate.

He hasn’t exactly been over-played this season, so there’s a case for believing he needs a game. But Pivac will be hoping and praying he doesn’t pick up an injury, it not being easy to replace an authentically world-class player.

Tomas Francis

With Harry Williams part of the England squad preparing for the Six Nations, Francis is propelled into the Exeter Chiefs starting line-up for the date with Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

As with Faletau, Pivac will be desperately hoping Francis steers clear of injury. Indeed, in a perfect world the New Zealander would have wanted to see the Ospreys-bound player wrapped in at least 25 layers of cotton wool this weekend, with the big man right now the only No. 3 in the Wales squad with any kind of reputation as a scrummager.

If anything untoward happened to him, it would be blow which would take some overcoming. Some might even view such a turn of events as potentially calamitous to Welsh hopes.

But let’s hope from a Welsh perspective it doesn’t come to that.

There are a number of things Pivac will want to see from Francis.

But most of all he’ll be keen to see him leave the field without so much as a scratch.

Will Rowlands

He’s been in the news this week with his move to the Dragons finally confirmed.

That he was joining the east Wales club had long been trailed.

But it’s all signed, sealed and announced now and that should be a weight off Rowlands’ mind.

He packs down for Wasps when they host Harlequins on Sunday (3pm kick-off).

Pivac has high hopes for the 6ft 8in lock and will want evidence he is in form. Rowlands had a blazing game against Sale over Christmas but took a bump to the head against Bath on January 8 which forced him out of the match.

So far he’s yet to come up with a defining effort at Test level.

But Wales think highly of him, feeling he has an all-court game.

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