… Mr. Seaswan, thank you for your call. You’re listening to ‘Face The Music’ brought to you by Radio Taff Valley and we have with us in the studio Warren Gatland, who tomorrow will be taking off with the Welsh squad to New Zealand. Our next caller is Mr. Ave Rage. Mr. Rage, your question please.
Yes, good morning Mr. Gatland. My question is a somewhat delicate one. I know the press have been very forthcoming with their advice to Mr. Gatland about what player to take or not to take. I don’t really intend to add to that, but I do have one question: Is the proud of the fact that he has repaid the trust put in him by Marty by axing him from the squad?
Ah, yes, Mr. Rage… I might add, I hope your name is really indicative of your character. As you know a trainer has to make tough decisions and decisions based on the needs of the squad as a whole. Marty was one of the world’s best foragers of the ball and on the strength of that, as I’m sure you know, won 99 caps for Wales. His strength of presence on the field is such that the opposition feared him tremendously. Unfortunately, we need to make choices in any squad. One of the choices I made was to take just one specialist position player of Marty’s kind and to include players who could play anywhere in the back row. That’s why Marty has had to miss out, and I am the first to regret that.
Yes, Mr. Gatland, but I remember your interview the day you announced you had persuaded Marty to come out of retirement and to rejoin the team. You said, Marty was going to be an enormous influence on the younger players coming into the squad.
You have a good memory, Mr. Rage. And I’m sure you can but recognise to what extent this has been the case. Our squad captain is a case in point. Marty has worked tirelessly to help Sam become the player and leader he has become. And that even to the extent that Sam has become our n°1 player in that position.
But if that’s the case, don’t you think Marty’s influence on the younger players could continue in New Zealand?
Mr. Rage, if I was picking a team of therapists, then Marty’s name might well be on my list. But I’m picking a team of rugby players, a team capable of winning us the World Cup. And unfortunately, Marty no longer makes the grade. I want the best Mr. Rage. That’s the only way we will win this competition.
The best? Is that why you’re taking a couple of players along with hardly any, and that’s putting it kindly, match experience. Just because and I quote “… they have the exciting ability to turn the game around on the turn of a moment.” The whole world recognises that these players are way past their best, but you insist on picking them on the pretext that they might put together a little bit of magic at a vital moment. I hope you have your magic wand with you, Mr. Gatland?
These players you’re talking about are players of experience and will have an enormous influence on the rest of the squad whilst in New Zealand.
Like Marty? But maybe, Mr. Gatland, you could give me your definition of experience. I had always thought it had to do with playing rugby and the ability to nurture younger players. The only experience these guys seem to have is of bar brawls, nights behind bars and getting into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Is that the kind of nurture you’re looking for them to give?
Mr. Rage, you’re good with words. I’m good at running a rugby team. I’ve let you have your say, now please leave the running of the rugby team to me. I’ve picked a team to win the World Cup, not win a Mr. Good talent show. That’s all this is about. What my players do in their own time is their business.
And, that’s what you call nurturing?
Ah, Mr. Rage, if I might but in here, because you certainly do seem to be provoking a certain amount of rage here. But we really need…
Yes, well maybe Mr. Gatland needs to understand the rage that most of us fans have at his disgusting treatment of Marty. He calls him out of retirement, persuades him what a pivotal role he has in the team leading up to the World Cup and then rewards his loyalty over the years by giving him the axe at the crucial moment. We call that despicable.
We, Mr. Rage?
Yes, I’m sure you’ve realised that my name is a pseudonym, both my names, not just my last name. And if both you and Mr. Gatland put two and two together, you might just find out what the average rugby fan in Wales thinks of his decision.