Priestland reveals mental doubts

Date published: February 15 2013

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has spoken out over his mental state during the November Internationals.

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has spoken out over his mental state during the November Internationals.

Priestland is currently recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon which has forced him to miss the Six Nations, and admitted that at times last November he did not want to take the field.

A breakthrough star for Wales during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Priestland continued his outstanding form as Wales won the Grand Slam in last year's Six Nations, before a miserable run of eight consecutive Test defeats set in.

“I wasn't really enjoying rugby, especially at the start of the autumn internationals I didn't really want to be on the field,” said Priestland to BBC Radio Wales.

“After the Samoa game was probably my lowest point. I remember speaking to [Wales interim head coach] Rob Howley and… I said, 'I'm not happy, I'm not looking forward to going on the field'.

“I'm going on the field and I just don't want to make mistakes and I've never played like that.

“I found it quite tough and off the field things weren't going that well for me.

“I remember him [Howley] asking me, 'Do you want to play against the All Blacks?' and I couldn't answer him straight away, and I couldn't believe that I had to think about things like that.

“After the Samoa game I saw Andy McCann, who's the sports psychologist with the squad, and from the first time I met him it was such a weight off my shoulders, just nice to speak to somebody.

“I'm not the sort of person who can easily ask for help, so just being able to speak to somebody and put things in perspective helped me a lot.

“I thought I turned things around quite well from the first two games to the second two games and I was really happy with the way things were going. Then obviously my injury happened but it's just one of those things.”

With his achilles injury forcing him to miss out on a possible spot on the Lions tour, Priestland believes the blow could help him in the long-term as he continues to feel progress in his recovery on a daily basis.

“I think my body was crying out for a break; my shoulder was sore, my back was sore, my knees were sore,” added Priestland

“Obviously I didn't want to rupture my Achilles but I've had this break now and it's given me the chance to sort the rest of my body out, it could be a blessing in disguise.

“Because I haven't got much rugby commitments now I can concentrate on the aspects I need to sort out. I'm enjoying it to be honest.

“I'm probably about halfway now, so hopefully back the start of April but who knows?

“Rupturing your Achilles isn't what it used to be, you used to be out for six to nine months but now it's four or five months.

“Every day I come in it's improving and I can see the step by steps I need to take to get it better and I'm quite enjoying it, to be honest.”