Gatland slams boo boys

2014-11-12 10:32
Warren Gatland (AFP)

LondoWales head coach Warren Gatland has hit out at the supporters who booed fly-half Rhys Priestland as he made his way onto the pitch during last Saturday's loss to Australia.

Priestland, 27, was jeered by a small band of home fans in the 55 000 crowd at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium after being sent on to replace the injured Dan Biggar shortly after half-time in Wales's 33-28 defeat.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones took to Twitter to brand those responsible a "disgrace" and Gatland struck a similar tone after naming the Scarlets number 10 in his team to play Fiji this weekend.

"I only heard today that he was booed," Gatland told journalists on Tuesday. "I suppose it's part of sport now. Tottenham got booed at the weekend, didn't they?

"The way with social media and stuff and criticism, you feel for Rhys a little bit because he's been hammered on social media by certain sections. He is a confidence player. You hate to see (it).

"He's a young man who at one stage contemplated giving the game away because it wasn't worth taking that sort of personal criticism."

Priestland converted a 64th-minute penalty try to put Wales 28-27 ahead against Australia, only for Bernard Foley to give the tourists victory with a late drop-goal and penalty.

"I thought he (Priestland) did pretty well when he went on at the weekend," Gatland added. "I just hope he goes out, plays well and puts two fingers up to the section of the crowd that may have been booing him last week.

"It's something I don't think we need in the game. We don't always agree, but that's the beauty of sport.

"You disagree with someone, and that's fine, but you would like to see there is a bit of respect out there for people who are trying to do their best. He doesn't go out there to put that jersey on and fail."

Biggar's injury led to a recall for Gloucester playmaker James Hook, who was surprisingly left out of Gatland's initial squad for the November Tests in spite of his 76-cap experience.

"We've been watching James Hook a lot, and I think his game has improved for Gloucester," Gatland said.

"He gives us some versatility and he understands what we're trying to do as a squad. For us, James was a logical decision and he was pleased to come in. It's a great opportunity for him.

"We were concerned initially with how lateral he was. We wanted him to attack the line a bit more and be a lot squarer. He has been working on that aspect, and I think that's made a difference to him and Gloucester."

Read more on:    wales  |  warren gatland  |  rugby

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