DFP Header Area

Priestland backed by former coach

Guinness PRO12 Editor

27 Jun 2012

Tags

Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has been backed to answer his critics by former coach Nigel Davies after struggling in Wales’ 3-0 series whitewash in Australia.

The 25-year-old, who narrowly missed out on the RaboDirect PRO12 playoffs with the Scarlets, has come under fire for some of the decision-making Down Under.

Priestland kicked away possession in the dying seconds of the second Test leading to a match-winning penalty for the Wallabies after committing a costly handling error in the opening match, prompting Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley to demand improvement.

But Davies, who worked with Priestland at the Scarlets for four years before joining Gloucester as director of rugby in June, is adamant his former charge is still learning and still represents the future for Wales.

“Rhys is a quality player and he will play for Wales for years to come,” said Davies. “But it goes with the turf unfortunately when you play at No.10 for Wales.

“I can remember Stephen Jones and Neil Jenkins in my time – fantastic players. But you always have periods when you get a lot of stick if you are a ten.

“Rhys is having that now – he is used to it. He’s done it with the Scarlets and he came through a very rough patch there and he just kicked on. It’s part of his learning experience.

“I could see that Rhys was reading the game very well. He didn’t always execute what he wanted to do. He is playing within a game plan as well – there are a number of factors.”

Wales’ record against the Wallabies in Australia now stands at 11 defeats and one win, but the Grand Slam winners did get progressively closer to their opponents over the three Tests going down 27-19, 25-23 and 20-19.

It was a stark contrast to the 1996 summer tour Down Under that Davies took part in when Wales were beaten 56-25 and 42-3, and he believes that is cause for optimism.

“The margins were very tight. All three games Wales could have won,” added Davies.

“Their commitment was fantastic. The way they played for the vast majority of those games was great and they are getting there.

“I can remember in the mid-90s going to Australia and being thumped by 50 points, so there is no doubt that Wales is moving forward.

“So, I think you have to look at the positives and not the negatives in this and look historically where Wales have been over the last 30 years and where they are getting to now and there is a lot to be optimistic about.

“It’s becoming less of a mental problem. Physically we are able to compete. Technically we are able to compete and mentally now we are getting stronger and stronger.”Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has been backed to answer his critics by former coach Nigel Davies after struggling in Wales’ 3-0 series whitewash in Australia.

The 25-year-old, who narrowly missed out on the RaboDirect PRO12 playoffs with the Scarlets, has come under fire for some of the decision-making Down Under.

Priestland kicked away possession in the dying seconds of the second Test leading to a match-winning penalty for the Wallabies after committing a costly handling error in the opening match, prompting Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley to demand improvement.

But Davies, who worked with Priestland at the Scarlets for four years before joining Gloucester as director of rugby in June, is adamant his former charge is still learning and still represents the future for Wales.

“Rhys is a quality player and he will play for Wales for years to come,” said Davies. “But it goes with the turf unfortunately when you play at No.10 for Wales.

“I can remember Stephen Jones and Neil Jenkins in my time – fantastic players. But you always have periods when you get a lot of stick if you are a ten.

“Rhys is having that now – he is used to it. He’s done it with the Scarlets and he came through a very rough patch there and he just kicked on. It’s part of his learning experience.

“I could see that Rhys was reading the game very well. He didn’t always execute what he wanted to do. He is playing within a game plan as well – there are a number of factors.”

Wales’ record against the Wallabies in Australia now stands at 11 defeats and one win, but the Grand Slam winners did get progressively closer to their opponents over the three Tests going down 27-19, 25-23 and 20-19.

It was a stark contrast to the 1996 summer tour Down Under that Davies took part in when Wales were beaten 56-25 and 42-3, and he believes that is cause for optimism.

“The margins were very tight. All three games Wales could have won,” added Davies.

“Their commitment was fantastic. The way they played for the vast majority of those games was great and they are getting there.

“I can remember in the mid-90s going to Australia and being thumped by 50 points, so there is no doubt that Wales is moving forward.

“So, I think you have to look at the positives and not the negatives in this and look historically where Wales have been over the last 30 years and where they are getting to now and there is a lot to be optimistic about.

“It’s becoming less of a mental problem. Physically we are able to compete. Technically we are able to compete and mentally now we are getting stronger and stronger.”