Wales great hits out at Warren Gatland as forward walks out after head coach’s alleged ‘disrespect’

Colin Newboult
Wales head coach Warren Gatland in 2024.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland in 2024.

Warren Gatland has responded to the departure of hooker Sam Parry from the Wales squad, but not before great centre Tom Shanklin had taken a dig at the head coach.

It has been reported that the Ospreys front-rower decided to leave the group on the eve of the Springboks clash after claiming a lack of respect from the Welsh boss.

According to the Daily Mail, Parry felt ‘disrespected’ by not being made aware of his position within the team after being called up to the squad.

The experienced forward was named as one of four hookers in the initial 36-man group, but he apparently received less kit than his team-mates and was then told he was only there to help Wales prepare for their games in Australia.

Hookers for Springboks Test

Dewi Lake started and captained the side during the 41-13 defeat to the Boks on Saturday while Evan Lloyd was on the bench and came on late in the second period.

Parry was, therefore, the third-choice hooker after Dee was ruled out through injury, but he has now been replaced in the squad by Cardiff’s Efan Daniel, who will travel down under.

Parry has received plenty of support after news of his alleged walkout surfaced on Friday, including from ex-Test centre Shanklin.

The 44-year-old, who earned 70 caps for the national side and played under Gatland, was not impressed by the New Zealander.

“Good on him for making a stance,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “That’s not how to man manage an experienced respected campaigner.”

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Gatland’s explanation

Wales’ head coach was inevitably asked about the situation ahead of their game with the Boks at Twickenham, and he sought to play down the incident.

The 60-year-old almost seemed nonplussed and insists that he is always willing to speak to players if they have issues.

“I didn’t see anything that he’s actually said anything. I think it’s someone else making some comments,” Gatland told S4C.

“You’d need to talk to him and my door is always open in terms of having a discussion with any players if they have any feelings or need anything clarified.

“We were very clear in discussions with him early in the week when he came into the squad, so, you know, if he wants to reach out I’m more than happy to [speak to him].”

More context

Gatland then added more information in his post-match press conference, saying: “He left on Monday. I was surprised he left the squad. He didn’t talk to me. You need to talk to Sam because he hasn’t spoken to anyone.

“I understand his agent has been pretty vocal and stuff which is a little bit disappointing. Look, Sam came in the week before.

“I was straight up with him and told him what the situation he was in in the squad. We’ve put a release out to all the players that we’d picked a squad of 37 and we were only taking 34 on tour. I just wanted to be straight up and front him as a player. I’d like to know where I actually stood.

“I said that he was initially covering for Elliot with the injury. So, I was clear in that. I said: ‘Look I don’t want to stuff you around, you’ve been brilliant for us when you’ve come in in the past and we’ll just see what happens with that’.

“So, I’m not sure how I disrespected him there. I talked on Monday about competition within the squad. I thought there was some real competition with the hookers. I didn’t mention them by name. I didn’t want to leave Sam out so I said Sam as well. If I’ve upset him there was no intention to upset the player.

“I just would have rather him come and see me and say about the way he felt. There was definitely nothing from me in terms of trying to disrespect him or upset him.”

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