Priestland shoulders blame for slump

PA Sport
Rhys Priestland concedes he has not been at his best
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Rhys Priestland concedes he has not been at his best

Fly-half Rhys Priestland has laid bare his emotions and shouldered much of the blame for Wales' poor autumn Test campaign, claiming: "I have been playing with blinkers on."

Priestland was a pivotal figure behind Wales reaching last year's World Cup semi-finals, and he also started every game of the title and Grand Slam-winning 2012 RBS 6 Nations campaign but his form has dipped noticeably this season.

"I have been pretty down over the last couple of weeks," said the Scarlets number 10. "The poor performances against Samoa and Argentina were a lot to do with me because I have been playing with blinkers on. I buried my head in the sand and did not leave the flat."

He added: "One of the issues I had was I have not been asking for help. Typically, as a character, I try to sort things out myself and I have not been able to do that.

"I knew I had to sort things out in the build-up to the New Zealand game."

That meant seeing sports psychologist Andy McCann, who worked with the Wales squad at last year's World Cup in New Zealand and is still seen by several of the players on an individual basis.

"Andy has been really good," Priestland added. "I thought I would give it a shot because I had nothing to lose.

"I have tried to address that now, and hopefully I can get back to the way I have been playing."

Priestland, 25, has also stopped using Twitter, and he added: "When you are not playing well supporters start to turn on us. We were booed off in the first two games.

"I know there has been a lot of negative press written about us in the first two games, but I have stayed away from it. The last two weeks against Argentina and Samoa we have been way below par, personally and as a team, but New Zealand was a step in the right direction even though the scoreline does not seem to reflect it."

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