Warren Gatland explains everything that happened before Wales star walked out on him

Warren Gatland
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Getty Images)

Warren Gatland has given a detailed explanation of the events that led to one of his players quitting his Wales squad earlier this week, insisting he didn't intend to upset him.

Ospreys hooker Sam Parry left the squad with immediate effect on Monday, amid reports he felt "disrespected" by Gatland. The Daily Mail claimed Parry, who has seven caps for Wales, was shocked to discover he was not in contention to tour Australia and was just in the squad to help the team prepare, having allegedly also been discussed in a team meeting as an "afterthought" and given less kit than other players.

Gatland addressed the controversy ahead of his side's 41-13 defeat to South Africa on Saturday, telling S4C that he had been "honest and upfront" with the Ospreys man and that his door "always open" for players to air concerns. He reiterated that at the full time whistle, but went into much greater detail about what had transpired in camp earlier in the week.

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Asked for his response to Parry's response, the coach said simply: "He left on Monday. I was surprised he left the squad". But quizzed on exactly what had led the 32-year-old to leave, he said: "He didn't talk to me. You need to talk to Sam because he hasn't spoken to anyone," the Wales boss explained. "I understand his agent has been pretty vocal and stuff which is a little bit disappointing. Look, Sam came in the week before.

"I was straight up with him and told him what the situation he was in in the squad. We've put a release out to all the players that we'd picked a squad of 37 and we were only taking 34 on tour. I just wanted to be straight up and front him as a player. I'd like to know where I actually stood.

"I said that he was initially covering for Elliot (Dee) with the injury. So, I was clear in that. I said: 'Look I don't want to stuff you around, you've been brilliant for us when you've come in in the past and we'll just see what happens with that'.

"So, I'm not sure how I disrespected him there. I talked on Monday about competition within the squad. I thought there was some real competition with the hookers. I didn't mention them by name. I didn't want to leave Sam out so I said Sam as well. If I've upset him there was no intention to upset the player.

He continued: "I just would have rather him come and see me and say about the way he felt. There was definitely nothing from me in terms of trying to disrespect him or upset him.

"I just wanted to be honest and upfront with him. I think that would have been hopefully a better approach than if you'd come and said that rather than just walking off really. But I suppose I understand how people take things differently and you've just got to deal with that. Whether he's had any regrets.

"I know he's good friends with Gareth Thomas and Gareth contacted him straight away and said 'look, just get on the phone and ring him. Hopefully we could have sorted it out."

Asked if the door was still open for Parry to return to a future Wales squad, Gatland said, "In the future, yeah. I'd never close the door on a player. Whether he's had any regrets about his decision, sometimes people make compulsive decisions and players as well.

"I'm the first person to be able to forgive someone in terms of putting their hand up. I don't get everything right and make mistakes so you've got to have a little bit of compassion somewhere if it was impulsive. Considering the next day Elliot pulled out with an injury, he would have been on the plane, so whether he has any regrets about that I'm not too sure."

After Parry's departure and Dee's injury, Wales have called up rookie Efan Daniel to join Dewi Lake and Evan Lloyd as the hookers in the squad ahead of the Australia tour.