Priestland tipped to bounce back
June 27, 2012
Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland's reputation took a bit of a battering on his side's recent tour of Australia © PA Photos
Under-fire Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland has been backed to return to top form by his former coach Nigel Davies.
The 25-year-old Scarlets playmaker has been widely criticised for his performances on the recent tour of Australia that resulted in a 3-0 series defeat to the Wallabies. His game management has given the greatest cause for concern with a decision to kick away possession in the closing moments of the second Test leading to a match-winning penalty while a handling error in their opening encounter proved equally costly.
"Rhys is a quality player and he will play for Wales for years to come," Gloucester director of rugby Davies told BBC Sport, "but it goes with the turf unfortunately when you play 10 for Wales."
Davies insists that Priestland is still learning and must be given the chance to answer his critics. "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 10," said Davies. "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 [in Australia]. 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."
Davies also refused to be too downcast at Wales' repeated failure to notch their first victory over the Wallabies on Australian soil since 1960. "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. It's great to see the Wales Under-20s come third in the World Cup.
"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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time