Sunday 16 December 2018

Warren Gatland launches scathing attack on Premiership Rugby as row over player release continues

Wales boss Warren Gatland. Photo: Getty
Wales boss Warren Gatland. Photo: Getty Newsdesk Newsdesk

Wales head coach Warren Gatland criticised Premiership Rugby Limited after calling up Josh Adams and Tomas Francis for his team's two-Test tour of Argentina.

Both players were dropped from Gatland's initial party after PRL refused to release them - plus Bath's Luke Charteris - for the game with South Africa in the United States.

The encounter with the Springboks in Washington fell outside World Rugby's designated Test window, meaning PRL were within their rights to take their decision, but Gatland feels the situation could have been handled better.

"Every other country is playing three games - England are playing four - and we finish our tour a week earlier than them," Gatland said.

"I understand completely what PRL are trying to do in the autumn when we organise a fourth international. They're protecting their own competition.

"Players go back during the Six Nations down weeks and I understand that too, but I just can't understand why they would stop players from joining us a week or two early.

"The club season is finished and the players are going to be back with their clubs early anyway. It's a sad indictment on the politics of the game.

"I understand and accept completely the views on the other stuff, but this one just doesn't make sense to me."

Wales' games with Argentina fall within the calendar's window, which runs from June 9-23, and Gatland wasted no time calling up both Adams and Francis.

The arrival of Worcester wing Adams is a boost after Steffan Evans was ruled out of facing Argentina with a knee injury suffered in the 22-20 win over South Africa.

Exeter prop Francis provides tighthead cover for Samson Lee (back), who did not play against the Springboks.

"Josh will be involved for the last two weeks. We've got enough cover on the wing to take care of it and both our 10s can play 15 as well," Gatland said.

"George North can go back to the wing too. It's a shame for Steff, but it's one injury not three or four."

Wales secured a dramatic late victory at the RFK Stadium as Ryan Elias crossed for the match-winning try after earlier efforts from Hallam Amos and debutant Tomos Williams.

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus will have a much-changed team for the upcoming matches with England.

"England will be a step up, but there are 15 of our guys preparing for the games back in South Africa and we know the three-match Test series is going to be tough," he said.

"In the game with Wales we didn't have much time to analyse them and there were a lot of new faces on both teams. It will be different with England, they've got guys we know well. It will be one proper series, a hell of a series.

"We lost the game with Wales which makes it two defeats in a row and Eddie and England have lost four in a row. We are all under pressure and when you lose for your country, the heat comes on you."

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