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Tyrone Howe: Having a go at Hartley will backfire on Gatland and Wales

Another strange outburst from Wales coach Warren Gatland has provided a juicy subplot to Friday evening’s game at the Millennium stadium.

This is not the first time and the former Ireland coach seems to have a mild predilection for crass mind games, but the approach is basic and unnecessary.

Maybe Gatland’s public baiting of Dylan Hartley will have an effect, but I really doubt it.

There is still bad blood between Hartley and many of the Welsh players after Northampton’s home and away victories over Cardiff. Nonetheless, I am not a fan of sledging on the pitch and certainly not off it.

While Gatland has publicly apologised for his comments, an international coach should know better and it is not serving his own personal reputation any positive purpose.

More than anything else it sounds like a man under pressure and maybe it is no coincidence that his Wales team are currently suffering an extremely poor run of form. He can’t look to the Welsh regions for much solace either — he has got to somehow get a sustained 80 minute display out of his boys.

Gatland was awarded an extended four year contract only a matter of months ago. It seemed premature at the time and if things go badly in the next few weeks, by the time the Six Nations is over the WRU may question their decision. I wonder why rugby bodies do this?

Surely, if you are working towards the goal of a World Cup, it makes far more sense to be judged on your performance at that and rewarded accordingly.

Was it because Hartley is a fellow Kiwi? Or maybe a fellow hooker?

Maybe the England player is an easy target and perceived as the most likely player to react. Whatever the reasons, Wales need all the help they can get, but it is on the pitch where it counts.

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