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Wales v South Africa
Confusion surrounds Gatland's absence
ESPN Staff
November 8, 2013
Rob Howley (right) fielded media duties on Thursday instead of Warren Gatland © Getty Images
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Warren Gatland snubbed Thursday's media opportunity with Rob Howley attending in his place.

Gatland was reportedly frustrated with the media and was absent at Thursday's press conference. Howley, when asked where Gatland was, said: "He's meeting some of our players, so he's unavailable."

Despite this assertion by Howley, both the Times and the Daily Mail claim Gatland's absence was due to a different reason. The Times claims: "Gatland's non-appearance, it transpired, was the result of his frustration with sections of the Welsh media. Even when absent, Gatland had managed to remain the centre of attention."

The Daily Mail adds: "Howley took on the media duties again yesterday in the continuing absence of head coach Warren Gatland, who seems to have taken exception to negative reports surrounding his selection, especially the choice of fit-again Rhys Priestland over Dan Biggar at fly half."

Regardless of the reasons behind Gatland's absence, one thing is certain, the Millennium Stadium roof will be shut this weekend. Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer suggested earlier this week he was keen for the roof to stay open so his team could experience the Welsh elements, but Howley has confirmed they have opted to close it.

"It's up to us to make the decision and we've elected to keep the roof closed. So, hopefully, it's going to be a nice dry park and we can play some rugby. South Africa can play rugby as well."

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