Wales v Fiji: Rhys Priestland not worried about crowd pressure

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Rhys Priestland confident ahead of Wales' match against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium.
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.

Fly-half Rhys Priestland says he will not let crowd pressure affect his game when Wales take on Fiji in Cardiff.

Priestland was booed by some Wales supporters during the 33-28 defeat by Australia, and coach Warren Gatland criticised fans who "hammered" the player on social media.

Asked if he was concerned about fan criticism, Scarlets star Priestland said: "Not really."

"I was disappointed with the defeat but happy with my performance," he added.

Priestland replaced the injured Dan Biggar after the break against the Wallabies and has been handed his first Wales start since March with the Ospreys stand-off still injured.

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

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

The year before, Priestland had broken through as one of the big success stories of Wales' run to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Biggar was selected ahead of Priestland for the 51-3 win over Scotland in Wales' last match of the 2014 Six Nations.

And when Priestland was kept out of the summer tour of South Africa by a knee injury, Biggar cemented his place in the number 10 shirt.

With Toulon full-back Leigh Halfpenny also injured, Priestland is the only recognised goal-kicker in Wales' starting XV against the Pacific Islands team.

But he says he has no concerns about taking on the responsibility.

"I prepare every week as if I'm going to be kicking," he said.

Ospreys and Fiji player Josh Matavesi on Priestland
"He's got a tough game on Saturday. He knows what the Fijians are going to bring to him with the backline that we've got."

"If you look at last week Dan and Leigh were on the field and there was a very slim chance that I was going to kick in the game, but I prepared all week as if I would be, and I'll do the same this week.

"I'll be kicking on Saturday and it's something I'm looking forward to."

He added he felt that any place-kicking pressure will not affect the rest of his game.

"I kicked poorly against Leicester [for Scarlets] but I thought I played well and played the game that I wanted to play with ball in hand, so if things don't go well for me off the tee it's not the end of the world."

Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi will be lining up at fly-half for Fiji against Priestland, and says he was unhappy to hear supporters booing players.

"I'm a little bit disappointed in some of the fans, not all of them," he said.

Josh Matavesi
Josh Matavesi has made six Fiji appearances, one of them at fly-half

"It's just that two per cent of fans that did it, the rest are amazing, [and] I'm sure Rhys is big enough to come back from that.

"He's got a tough game on Saturday. He knows what the Fijians are going to bring to him with the backline that we've got."

Priestland agrees Fiji will be a major test for Wales.

"I think we'll be fools if we underestimated Fiji because we know what sort of players they've got - they've got some of the top players in Europe," he said.

"But we've got to back ourselves and we want to play an open game and really test Fiji.

"People might think it's a foregone conclusion but we won't take it like that and we'll do everything in our power to prepare properly and hopefully put a really astute performance in."


Liam Williams (Scarlets), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, capt), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Dan Lydiate (unattached), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys).

Replacements: Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), James Hook (Gloucester), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues).

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