Pivac's stocks rise as Llanelli soar

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    02 Apr 2018     Getty Images

His stocks have soared as a result of the rise of the Llanelli Scarlets fortunes. They won the Pro14 title for the first time last year and on Friday they reached the semifinals of Europe's Champions Cup by beating La Rochelle 29-17 in front of a record crowd in Llanelli.

They will now face Leinster who beat Saracens 30-19 on Sunday.

Pivac told The Independent after his side's win: "The atmosphere was superb. We knew it was going to be fantastic and it would lift the boys, and they fed off it. The whole region will remember this occasion for a long time.

Pivac has managed a significant change in attitude with the side since taking over.

"When I arrived you had a hierarchy within the team where certain people could do certain things and others couldn't. You just cannot get a happy team when you have one rule for one group and another rule for others. Those are some of the things we don't allow to happen now."

Pivac has helped his appreciation among the local rugby faithful by living in Llanelli, something several of his players don't do as they prefer to live in Cardiff. But it has also helped that local hero and former Wales first five-eighths Stephen Jones is on his coaching staff.

Central to the playing performance of the side has been the form of fullback Lee Halfpenny. He has enjoyed Champions Cup success while playing for Toulon in 2015 but since returning to Llanelli he said last year's Pro14 wins over Leinster and Munster, both away games, had been central to the growth in the players' belief that they could succeed.

"We showed we could go away to those big clubs and win, and that's the belief we have to have in the semifinal. It's going to be a massive game," Halfpenny said.

A key contributor for Leinster in their win was former Blues player Isa N
acewa. Playing a hand in setting up a couple of Leinster's tries he also made 14 tackles. He was well aware of the threat Llanelli posed.

"They definitely got one over us in the RDS last year in the Pro14 semifinal. They're such a good attacking side these days and they showed that the other evening. They're a really tough challenge and one we'll have to learn from today and really build for," Nacewa told media after the win.

"They are a huge challenge, one of the best attacking teams out there. They thrive off turnover ball, [have] one of the highest rates of turning over ball and converting those into points. All the guys they have, they can play to both game plans and they are a very expansive team as we know," he said.