Warren Gatland defends fly-half Rhys Priestland after Wales boos

Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland
Rhys Priestland, who came on as a substitute in the 33-28 defeat by Australia, has won 31 caps for Wales
Autumn internationals: Wales v Fiji
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Sat 15 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC One HD, online, mobiles and BBC Sport app from 14:00 GMT; live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru & online; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has defended Rhys Priestland following supporters' criticism which almost drove the fly-half to retire.

Priestland was booed by some Wales fans during the 33-28 defeat by Australia.

The Scarlets fly-half has struggled with his confidence in the past, but will start against Fiji on Saturday.

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

Priestland replaced the injured Dan Biggar against the Wallabies and, with the latter not recovering in time to face Fiji, Priestland has been handed his first Wales start since March 2014.

The 27-year-old sought the help of sport psychologist Andy McCann in 2012 following criticism from fans at games and on social media.

"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," said Gatland.

"You feel for Rhys a little bit because he's been hammered on social media by certain sections."

Wales' autumn Tests
Saturday, 8 November: Wales 28-33 Australia - report
Saturday, 15 November: v Fiji (14:30 GMT)
Saturday, 22 November: v New Zealand (17:30 GMT)
Saturday, 29 November: v South Africa (14:30 GMT)
All games to be played at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Gatland has made eight changes for the match against Fiji but is confident the team has enough "experience and firepower" to beat the South Sea Islanders.

The New Zealander hopes the Wales fans will get behind Priestland and the team.

"He is a confidence player. I thought he did pretty well when he came on at the weekend," said Gatland.

"You disagree with someone and that's fine, but you'd like to see there's 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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