Gloucester fail to convert Paul

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The Independent Online

Henry Paul's latest dalliance with rugby union may have turned sour following his omission from the Gloucester team which thrashed Ebbw Vale 46-11 in a Parker Pen Shield quarter-final at Kingsholm on Friday night.

The former New Zealand rugby league star, who moved from Bradford Bulls in a four-year deal only three months ago, questioned the West Country club's coaching methods after coming on as a replacement for the last few minutes of a one-sided encounter.

After making most of his first-team appearances at fly-half since switching codes for a second time, Paul paid the penalty for a moderate display during Gloucester's Powergen Cup defeat to London Irish last Sunday by being left out of the starting line-up.

Paul, who first tasted rugby union for a few months at Bath back in 1996, said: "I don't think the coaching at Gloucester is good enough. Moving here from Bradford feels like I have taken a step down. There needs to be more technical work, and I feel it is holding me back and the side in general.

"There is only so much you can do before you have to get on with it."

For Paul, who could make his England A debut against Scotland A in Stirling on Friday, to be unsettled is the last thing that Gloucester's director of rugby, Philippe Saint-André, needs.

Saint-André is currently engaged in contract talks with Gloucester's multi-millionaire owner, Tom Walkinshaw, and it seems the Frenchman's future could hinge on the club qualifying for next season's Heineken Cup.

"I don't regret moving to rugby union," Paul, who celebrates his 28th birthday next month, added. "It's a wonderful game and there is plenty I want to achieve in this sport. I am delighted to be in the England second-string side so early in my move."

However, Paul has retained strong ties with West Yorkshire, where he has business interests, and his brother Robbie is still a member of the Bulls squad. If he were to leave Gloucester, it is likely there would be no shortage of options from either code.