CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Problems at 10 for Wales
9:00am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Sport
IT WAS pretty honest of the international coach to admit after a disappointing Test that the fly-half was not producing the goods.
Unfortunately the refreshing honesty was coming from Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer rather than Wales caretaker boss Rob Howley.
“Morne is a worry at the moment as we know he is not playing well,” admitted Meyer.
“He has high standards and will come back stronger,” he continued after hearing his number 10 heckled by the home fans as South Africa drew 14-14 with England in Port Elizabeth.
Meyer is not the only one facing a quandary at number 10.
Rhys Priestland is off colour and is failing to hit the heights of his World Cup campaign.
It is ridiculous for him to cop all the flak for Wales’ woes Down Under – Mike Phillips was not at his best at scrum-half and he missed the reassuring presence of Jamie Roberts at inside centre.
Not only that, the Welsh pack were bossed at the breakdown and failed to provide quality ball for their 10.
Priestland is a quality player but that does not mean his dip in form, which started in the Six Nations, can be ignored.
Sadly the Welsh management appear to be burying their heads in the sand.
The absence of in-form Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar from the touring party was baffling – surely his presence would have been preferable to that of Liam Williams, who was taken purely for the Brumbies game?
And it was pathetic to see James Hook, who enjoyed a terrific first season pulling the strings for Perpignan, thrown on with 11 minutes remaining of the third Test.
Good luck with changing the flow of the game with that cameo, James.
With Leigh Halfpenny in imperious form from the tee, Priestland should be freed from the goalkicking shackles that seemed to affect his game in the Six Nations.
The Scarlets man earned the faith that has been shown in him by Warren Gatland and Howley.
But if he cannot pick up his form before the Argentina Test then a change may be required.
And Biggar simply has to be in the mix come the autumn – maybe his presence would bring the best out of Priestland, just as the form of Ryan Jones has pushed Dan Lydiate.