Welsh Rugby
Gatland frustrated by Ospreys rows
ESPNscrum Staff
May 30, 2011
Wales coach Warren Gatland casts his eye over training, Wales training session, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Wales, February 22, 2011
Wales coach Warren Gatland is frustrated with the poor working relationship with the Ospreys © Getty Images

Wales coach Warren Gatland has revealed his frustration at the poor working relationship with the Ospreys, calling it "the most disappointing thing" of his tenure.

The Ospreys, who were Magners League champions last season and the only Welsh side to reach this year's play-offs, have provided a strong contingent of players for the national team in recent years, including key players like Mike Phillips, James Hook, Shane Williams, Adam Jones and Alun-Wyn Jones.

They have eight players in Gatland's Wales squad for Saturday's match in Cardiff against the Barbarians, who will have the Ospreys' Scott Johnson on their coaching staff. But Gatland feels the relationship between the Welsh region and the national side is undermining both side's efforts and wants them to stop "banging our heads against each other and making life difficult".

"It is the most disappointing thing since I've been at Wales, you'd like to think that us and the Ospreys should have a really, really close relationship," Gatland told BBC's Scrum V. "And be working together, helping each other out and assisting each other at every opportunity. The unfortunate thing is, it just hasn't bonded or blended in any way that I would've like it.

"The relationship with the Blues has been great and the Dragons and Scarlets, but for whatever reason, and I don't know what it is, we just haven't clicked with the Ospreys. Ideally you would like a close working relationship going forward and perhaps with the changes in roles at the Ospreys and maybe a few players leaving that we will be able to do that in the future."

Reports have suggested that the Ospreys and the Welsh setup have different opinions on style of play, player preparation for Welsh internationals and top-up fees for keeping top local stars in Wales. However Ospreys chief Roger Blyth claims the relationship with Wales is "pretty strong".

"I'm rather dumbfounded by Warren's comments," said Blyth. "I've always thought we had a pretty strong relationship with the union. The contribution we have made over the years has been second to none, so his comments are rather mystifying. We get regular visits from his national coaches. Robin McBryde is down a lot of the time and certainly Neil Jenkins.

"I have got to say Warren hasn't been with us that much, I think he has only been with us two or three times since Scott Johnson has been our coach."

With James Hook, Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips all leaving the Ospreys in the summer Gatland admitted that as few as six Ospreys players could be involved in his World Cup squad.

"In my first game there were 13 Ospreys that started and that number has slowly dwindled down," he said. "There might only be six Ospreys that go to the World Cup. From a selection point of a view as an international coach, you don't want all of the talent being in one area, ideally you want it spread around."

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