Wayne Pivac: Scarlets coach 'right up there' for Wales job - Mike Ruddock

Wayne Pivac addresses the media
Wayne Pivac became Scarlets boss in 2014

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac is a "very good candidate" to succeed Warren Gatland as Wales boss in 2019, says ex-Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock.

Pivac has held informal talks with the Welsh Rugby Union about taking over from his fellow New Zealander, who will stand down after the next World Cup.

Ruddock said Pivac has "definitely put himself in the frame".

Pivac won the 2016-17 Pro12 with Scarlets, who face Leinster in Saturday's Champions Cup semi-final.

"He's got to be right up there. I've been very impressed in the way he's gone about his business," said Ruddock.

"When I was Wales coach I went up against him as Fiji coach and I think a late drop-goal saved our blushes because Wayne had the Fiji team very well prepared.

"He's been around the block, he knows his stuff and he's done a great job at the Scarlets.

"He knows Welsh rugby and he knows about preparing teams for international rugby, so he's a very good candidate."

Repeat performance in Dublin?

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac with Scarlets backs coach Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones (left) joined Wayne Pivac's coaching team for the 2015-16 season

Ruddock, who coached Wales from 2004-2006, said Scarlets backs coach Stephen Jones and defence coach Byron Haywood also "deserve a good rap".

Scarlets, who have reached the last four of the European Champions Cup for the first time in 11 years, will travel to the Aviva Stadium to take on Leinster on Saturday.

It will be a rematch of last year's Pro12 semi-final in Dublin, in which Scarlets produced a superb performance to win 27-15.

However Ruddock, who coached Leinster from 1997 to 2000, said he would be "very surprised" if the Irish province had not learned lessons from that encounter.

Mike Ruddock Grand Slam
Mike Ruddock steered Wales to their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 27 years in 2005

"Achievement builds confidence and the Scarlets have achieved great things," he said.

"They are a team packed with international quality and will feel if they've won in Ireland once before they can do it again.

"You can talk about it and practise it, but there is enough quality in that team and enough adventure to make it very difficult for any opposition. It could go either way."

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