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New WRU performance director Walker excited about future of women’s team

WRU Performance Director Nigel Walker.

New WRU performance director Nigel Walker has vowed to right the wrongs of Wales Women’s programme as they gear up for their upcoming Autumn internationals.

Wales begin their Autumn schedule by welcoming Japan to Cardiff Arms Park on November 7 before taking on South Africa and Canada on successive weekends.

An interim coaching team has been put in place following the departure of head coach Warren Abrahams, who oversaw Wales’ 2021 Women’s Six Nations campaign before leaving the role in July.

Walker appointed new WRU performance director

But after a turbulent period for Wales Women, former international Nigel Walker is optimistic he possesses the knowledge and experience to take the programme to new heights.

Walker said: “It’s day one for me and I’m very excited about the job, but I’m also excited about the women’s programme and what we can do in the Welsh Rugby Union to make sure that women’s programme has the elevation and the focus on it that it should have.

Steve Phillips and and WRU Performance Director Nigel Walker

“This is the first stage, with an interim coaching team and exciting young coaches working with our squad. We are looking for a head coach, we’ve made no mistake about that.

“But this interim coaching team are all experienced coaches, they’re young coaches, they are very ambitious coaches, they’ve already spent a number of days with the squad.

“And what I saw in our camp on the weekend, fills me with a lot of optimism for the future. We have the resources to put a lot of the things that have gone wrong in the programme right.

“I like to think I know a little bit about performance and excellence, and I will be doing everything in my power to drive this programme forward to the heights it deserves to be at.”

Scouting out Wales: Autumn Nations Series provides litmus test

Wales finished the 2021 Women’s Six Nations in sixth position, losing to Scotland in a play-off after also suffering defeats to France and Ireland in their pool.

But captain Siwan Lillicap echoed Walker’s optimism about the future of Wales Women, insisting excitement is building in camp ahead of their three November fixtures.

She said: “We have three great fixtures, a Six Nations and a World Cup, we’re twelve months out now, the excitement is building again and obviously lots of change is happening with us within the Welsh Rugby Union which is exciting, and it gives us something really to look forward to and drive.

“It’s going to be exciting to have crowds for the first time since the 2020 Six Nations which will be a real big boost for us to be able to have our family and friends and supporters of Welsh Rugby in the stands, getting behind us.

“I think most of us have experienced fans back at our club rugby over the past few weekends and it really does give you a boost and really does remind you of why you love this and why you love the game of rugby.

“It’s a boost for us now to put on that red jersey again and right some wrongs really from a rugby performance perspective, but also, there’s nothing better than representing your country, putting on those three feathers and playing alongside a great group of girls.”

Wales Women Autumn fixtures: 

Sunday November 7 – 17:00 – Wales Women v Japan Women

Saturday November 13 – 12:30 – Wales Women v South Africa Women

Sunday November 21 – 17:00 – Wales Women v Canada Women