As Wayne Pivac’s future hangs in the balance - could Warren Gatland return as Wales rugby boss?

Suggestions are already rife that Pivac's predecessor, Warren Gatland, is being lined up to return. Credit: PA

The future of Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will be decided this week after a disappointing autumn campaign put him on the brink of losing his job.

In November, Wales were thrashed by New Zealand before losing to Georgia for the first time and then letting a 21-point second half lead slip against Australia.

A commendable victory over Argentina was the only reprieve but it did little to prevent the pressure from ramping up on the Wales boss.

He has now cancelled a planned trip to France to scope out Rugby World Cup 2023 venues and will now remain in Cardiff for the review of his performance to take place.

Wales saw victory snatched on Saturday as Australia beat Pivac's side 39-34 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Credit: PA

The WRU hierarchy reviews every campaign, successful or otherwise, with the head coach. But, departing from normal practice, last night the Union released a statement voicing the displeasure of WRU CEO Steve Phillips over recent results and acknowledged that discussions would now take place.

The statement insisted that a 'proper process' must be followed but also ominously noted that WRU boss Phillips 'left no room for interpretation when summing up what he thought of Wales’ debut loss to Georgia and final round defeat to Australia'.

Quoted in the statement, Phillips added: "With no disrespect to Georgia, who are a growing force in the world game, this result was extremely disappointing," said Phillips.

"We were anticipating a significant improvement against Australia and there was an obvious positive reaction but, again, we are of course disappointed not to have won that game.

"We will now review the Autumn Nation Series campaign in its entirety and in detail, as we always do. Upon conclusion of this review we will, of course, act on the outcome as we continue to work towards, the now short-term goal of, success at the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the more immediate 2023 Six Nations competition, but also sustainable longer term success."

With the growing sense that Pivac is struggling to keep his current position, attention will soon turn to who could step in to replace him, should the WRU decide change is required.

Suggestions are already rife that Pivac's predecessor, Warren Gatland, is being lined up to return.

The Kiwi is currently under contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union in his role as Director of Rugby at the Chiefs.

Should the WRU move for him, they would have to pay him out of the final 12 months of his contract and convince him that it is a job worth taking. Gatland is extremely fondly remembered in Wales for three Grand Slams, a further Six Nations title and two World Cup semi-finals.

He may be reluctant to risk his legacy but could also view the opportunity as a win-win. If he turns Wales around in 10 months and makes them a success at the World Cup, then his stock would rise further.

Should he fail, he could point to the chaos that is currently unfolding in Welsh rugby at the moment.

Either way, the first job for the WRU is to decide whether it's time to stick or twist when it comes to Pivac, and with the World Cup appearing on the horizon, they do not have the luxury of time.