Priestland saddened by Parks exit
Scotland fly-half quit international rugby after Six Nations opener
Last Updated: February 8, 2012 10:17pm
Rhys Priestland: Wales fly-half has sympathy for Dan Parks
Wales stand-off Rhys Priestland has sympathised with fellow Test match fly-half Dan Parks after claims the Scotland player might have been hounded out of international rugby.
Parks dramatically quit the Test arena on Tuesday, just five days before Scotland tackle Priestland and company in Cardiff.
Parks' charged-down kick led to Charlie Hodgson scoring the decisive try that gave England a 13-6 victory in last weekend's RBS Six Nations opener at Murrayfield.
Former Scotland coach Jim Telfer told Five Live that 33-year-old Parks, who won 67 caps, had taken "a pummelling from the press'' during his Test career.
And Priestland, who is eight years Parks' junior and has 56 fewer caps, admitted the Scotsman's sudden exit was "a bit sad''.
Priestland himself could easily have been in the firing line after missing two easy penalty chances during Wales' Six Nations clash in Dublin last weekend, but the World Cup semi-finalists prevailed 23-21.
Priestland admitted he received flak a few years ago while playing for the Scarlets, but he added: "If Dan has been having stick, he's been having a lot more because he is playing international rugby and I was just playing for Scarlets.
"He is a fantastic player who has won so many games for Scotland, so you do feel for him."
Rhys Priestland Quotes of the week
"It can be hard sometimes, but you just have to do your best not to take any notice if people come up to you directly and say stuff, and just keep listening to the people around you and what they have to say.
"A lot of it is that people think the grass is always greener on the other side.
"I think it was two years ago when Dan had three man-of-the-match awards out of Scotland's five Six Nations games, and then they went to Argentina and beat them over there.
"He is probably one of the best kickers out of hand, and he keeps the scoreboard ticking with drop-goals and stuff. But Scotland haven't scored many tries and he has had a lot of criticism because of it.
"I have only really played against him when he played for Glasgow. You used to go up there knowing what he was going to do, but you couldn't really stop him.
"He is a fantastic player who has won so many games for Scotland, so you do feel for him.''
Priestland admitted he had "a bad day at the office'' with his goalkicking in Dublin, and was replaced as marksman by Leigh Halfpenny, whose 80th-minute penalty edged Wales home.
"It wasn't a hard decision to make because I know how good a kicker Leigh is,'' he added.
"It made sense to give him the opportunity as I wasn't kicking very well. So I spoke to 'Jinks' (Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins) and said 'let Pens take the next one'.
"To be honest, the way 'Pens' has kicked it is going to be hard for me to get it back off him.
"I have just got to try to forget about what happened on the weekend, and if I do get another opportunity I have to take it. If not, I will just try to concentrate on every other aspect of the game.
"I learnt a few years ago that you can't keep dwelling on things. I was disappointed for a few hours after the game, but it's okay now and I will just keep moving on.
"If that had happened a few years ago, I wouldn't have gone asking for the ball and I would have hidden. When something went wrong a few years ago, I would really beat myself up about it.
"I would worry what people said and what people thought. But I spoke a lot to (Scarlets coach) Nigel Davies about it back then, and he stuck by me and said 'the people who criticise you couldn't do it, so keep your head down and keep believing in yourself'.
"It did take a while to convince myself that was the best way to handle it, and it is still a work in progress, but if I do have a bad game I try to forget about it and don't go and hide.''