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Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Friday, 28 January 2011

Rhys Priestland hails John Muggleton's role in his rise

Rhys Priestland
Rhys Priestland in training with Wales for the 2011 Six Nations

New Wales fly-half hope Rhys Priestland has credited ex-Scarlets defence coach John Muggleton with helping him make the nation's Six Nations squad.

Ex-Australia assistant Muggleton left the region at the end of last term, having earned Priestland's gratitude.

Wales boss Warren Gatland says Priestland's running ability earned him the nod over Osprey Dan Biggar.

"I did a lot of work with John Muggleton down at the Scarlets," said 23-year-old Priestland.

"And he was a big fan of a 10 that could run.

"So I tried to develop it last year and more-so this year. But I've always enjoyed running with the ball - it's just that maybe getting a bit physically stronger has helped me."

Biggar's last cap came in Wales' 16-16 draw with Fiji in November, a game in which he was replaced in the 49th minute by Priestland's Scarlets' colleague Stephen Jones.

Biggar was not then given the understudy role in the clash against New Zealand that followed and found himself out in the cold when Gatland named his Six Nations squad.

Toby Faletau was first first called into the Wales squad in November
Toby Faletau was first first called into the Wales squad in November

In the meantime, Priestland enhanced his growing reputation during the Scarlets' Heineken Cup pool campaign and is now vying to become 33-year-old Jones' long-term successor in the Wales number 10 jersey.

Uncapped Priestland has also played full-back for the region this season and admits that while not keen on that position at the start of the season, he would not turn down the chance to play there for Wales.

"At the start of the season I wasn't too keen on playing full-back." said Priestland.

"But I ended up being on the bench for a month so I realised then, pretty quickly, that it's better to be on the field than not playing.

"So I've enjoyed the games I've had at 15, but at the end of the day I'd rather play 10, but if I get asked to play 15 I'm not going to turn it down."

Wales squad:

Forwards: Paul James (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Wasps), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Dan Lydiate (Dragons).

Backs: Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sharks), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Lee Byrne (Ospreys).


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see also
'Mischievous' Gatland's media ban
27 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Six Nations to end Friday games
26 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Rail strike on Six Nations opener
26 Jan 11 |  Wales
Faletau suffers Wales injury blow
25 Jan 11 |  Welsh
England call up Dowson and Wood
24 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Williams omitted from Wales squad
23 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Defence coach to leave Scarlets
20 Apr 10 |  Scarlets
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh

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