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Warren Gatland urges fans to give Rhys Priestland a break

By Andrew Baldock

Wales boss Warren Gatland has rounded on the Millennium Stadium culprits responsible for booing fly-half Rhys Priestland during last Saturday's defeat against Australia.

Priestland, who will start in the number 10 shirt against Fiji this weekend, was jeered by a small section of home fans among a 55,000 crowd when he replaced an injured Dan Biggar shortly after half-time.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones was among those who condemned the supporters' actions, venting his anger on Twitter, and Gatland has now leapt to 27-year-old Priestland's defence.

"I only heard recently that he was booed," Gatland said. "I suppose it's part of sport now.

"The way of social media and criticism, you feel for Rhys a little bit because he's been hammered on social media by certain sections. He is a confidence player. You hate to see (it).

"He's a young man who at one stage contemplated giving the game away because it wasn't worth taking that sort of personal criticism."

Priestland converted a 64th-minute penalty try that inched Wales 28-27 ahead before Australia rallied to claim their 10th successive victory in the fixture through a late Bernard Foley drop-goal and penalty.

"I thought he (Priestland) did pretty well when he went on at the weekend," Gatland added.

"I just hope he goes out, plays well and puts two fingers up to the section of the crowd that may have been booing him last week.

"It's something I don't think we need in the game.

"We don't always agree, but that's the beauty of sport.

"You disagree with someone, and that's fine, but you would like to see there is a bit of respect out there for people who are trying to do their best. He doesn't go out there to put that jersey on and fail."

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