Lee Byrne: 'Clash of personalities' curtailed Wales career

Lee Byrne in action for Wales in 2008
Lee Byrne scored 10 tries in 46 appearances for Wales

Lee Byrne believes a clash of personalities contributed to him not making more appearances for Wales.

The 2008 Grand Slam winner this week announced his retirement at the age of 34 because of a shoulder injury.

He played his last of his 46 Tests in the 2011 World Cup, and says moving to Clermont from Ospreys hit his chances.

"I'd made a decision to go to France and I think there was a sort of clash of personalities and I was surplus to requirements," he told BBC Sport Wales.

Lee Byrne graphic

"I was in two autumn international squads I wasn't picked and I was going back-and-forth to France and there was a little bit of a fall out there."

Byrne was a key player as Wales won the 2008 Six Nations Grand Slam in Warren Gatland's first season as head coach.

And he played in the first Test for the British and Irish Lions in 2009 against South Africa, but missed the rest of the series with injury.

His move to France after the 2011 World Cup coincided with the emergence of George North and Alex Cuthbert as Wales wings, which in turn led to Leigh Halfpenny's switch from wing to full-back.

Halfpenny's place-kicking in the number 15 shirt was a key factor as Wales claimed a second Grand Slam for Gatland in 2012.

However, Byrne impressed for Clermont Auvergne, helping them reach the final of the 2013 Heineken Cup when they lost to Toulon.

Jonny Wilkinson and Lee Byrne after the 2013 Heineken Cup final
Lee Byrne (right) was on the losing side as Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon to a 16-15 win over Clermont Auvergne in the 2013 Heineken Cup final

"I thought at the time I definitely deserved a chance to be playing [for Wales] or in the mix or at least put my hand up for selection.

"My coach in Clermont was asking me why, what I'd done and I didn't see it coming and I was just disappointed not to get to 50 caps.

"I would have liked that and I think I probably could have got a lot more as well."

Byrne returned to Wales in the summer of 2014 and appointed captain of Newport Gwent Dragons, but injury brought his career to a premature end.

Despite the impact he feels it had on his Wales career, Byrne does not regret his time in French rugby.

"I went to France and that didn't help my cause. I probably missed out on a few there by doing that.

"But it was one of the best times of my career, really, in terms of the culture and playing in front of those supporters."

Watch Sport Wales' Lee Byrne interview on BBC Two Wales on Friday, 24 April from 20:00 BST. It is also available after transmission for seven days on BBC iPlayer.

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