Gatland bullish despite Priestland injury setback


WALES coach Warren Gatland insists his side will not be weakened by the absence of in-form fly-half Rhys Priestland for arguably the biggest game in the team’s history tomorrow.

Priestland, who has been a revelation at the World Cup, has failed to recover from a shoulder injury in time for the semi-final against France and will be replaced at No10 by James Hook.

It means both Wales and France could be deprived of their first-choice kickers, with Les Bleus’ scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili struggling to overcome a dead leg sustained in their quarter-final win over England.

“Time was against Rhys but we are happy that we have the talent and ability elsewhere in the squad to cover him,” said Gatland. “When we have players of the calibre and experience of James Hook and Stephen Jones coming into the squad and starting line-up, there is no sense that Rhys’s absence leaves us any weaker.”

Yachvili, who has scored nine out of 10 penalties and six conversions from nine, has been included in the French team but kicking coach Gonzalo Quesada yesterday admitted the No9 could miss out.