Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland backs referee Nigel Owens in Twitter row

Rhys Priestland
Rhys Priestland is one of many Wales players using Twitter

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland says referee Nigel Owens should continue to interact with players on Twitter.

Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson has criticised the international referee's use of the social networking site.

Owens will be in charge of the west Wales derby between Scarlets and Ospreys in Llanelli on Boxing Day.

"I think people make too much fuss over it," said Priestland.

"Personally I don't think there's too much wrong with what he's done."

During a media conference earlier in the week Johnson had said of Owens: "He is on social networks talking to opposition players.

"He posted the last time we played them, apologising to the Scarlets supporters for forward passes. When you start that, you open up a can of worms.

"That can have unfair accusations labelled against people. The sport can do without it."

Owens has decided not to respond to Johnson's criticism, but Priestland has defended the referee, who officiated at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.

"Everyone gets on well with him," said the 24-year-old, who also has his own Twitter accountexternal-link.

"When he's on the field it doesn't matter if he gets on well will that player on or off the field, that doesn't let him cloud his judgement.

"He's been in a bit of controversy out in New Zealand [over Samoa centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu] and to be honest I don't think that really affected him and I don't think this will affect him.

"He hasn't got to where he is now in the world as probably one of the best referees by letting little things like this bother him.

"He's spoken to a few of our players and spoken to players from every other region.

"It's such a small close knit thing rugby in Wales [that] it's going to be pretty hard for him not to speak to everyone.

"It's good for the game in Wales that the players are on there [on Twitter]. It gives the public the chance to interact with players.

"If you want to follow the players you can speak to them and have a bit of banter on there."

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