RHYS Priestland has bared his soul after telling how he has turned to a sports psychiatrist to help him cope with the personal torment he has suffered this autumn.
Wales’ under fire No 10 has endured a miserable month and has taken heavy flak by both press and public over some poor performances.
Priestland made two expensive errors in the 33-10 defeat to New Zealand after he missed two penalty kicks to touch, Wales turning down probable points by going for broke – and losing.
It spoke volumes when James Hook was roundly cheered at the Millennium Stadium by the home fans when he replaced the Scarlets man in the 67th minute.
With the knives out for Priestland again, once the darling of Welsh rugby after a good World Cup, eyebrows were raised on Saturday when he was brought out to talk to journalists after the game.
It was an excellent move, because one couldn’t help feeling very sympathetic for the 25-year-old when he opened up about his personal hell over the last few weeks.
He has been the subject of some heavy criticism after Wales’ embarrassing 26-12 defeat to Argentina and, in particular, after coming on as a replacement for Dan Biggar in the 26-19 setback to Samoa.
“I have been pretty down over the last couple of weeks,” Priestland admitted.
“After Samoa I didn’t want to leave the flat or want to see anyone.
“I never go on the field and not give 100 per cent but felt I had let people down.
“The poor performances against Samoa and Argentina were a lot to do with me because I have been playing with blinkers on.
“Cutting myself away and that has been the problem.”
He added: “I buried my head in the sand and did not leave the flat. One of the issues I had was I have not been asking for help. Typically as a character I try and sort things out myself and I have not been able to do that.”
Things got so bad, he confessed, he had to find help.
“I knew I had to sort things out in the build-up to the New Zealand game,” he said.
“I have started to see the sports psychiatrist we used during the World Cup and he has been really good.
“A lot of the boys have been using Andy McCann, so I thought I would give it a shot because I had nothing to lose.
“I was really looking forward to this game because it was the first time I had played against the All Blacks.
“I have tried to address that now and hopefully I can get back to the way I have been playing.”