Iestyn is not perfect, but he's not the scapegoat

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The Independent Online

Argentina thoroughly deserved this victory without doing anything exceptional. They got the basics right, worked very hard, tried nothing extravagant and smashed the Welsh pack out of sight.

And in Felipe Contepomi they had an outside-half who was accomplished in everything he did. His performance also served to emphasise the failings of his opposite number Iestyn Harris. But I hope he's not to take the blame for this sad Welsh defeat. The big mistake was not removing Iestyn from the outside-half position once it became clear that his lack of rugby union instincts were being exposed but by the failure of the Welsh pack to handle the Argentine forwards.

Iestyn was caught in the middle of traffic he didn't know how to cope with. He made costly mistakes but they were the sort of errors I would expect a rugby league stand-off to make in that situation.

It was clear 10 minutes before half time that the formation wasn't working and wasn't going to – and that is when he should have been moved to 12 or even 13 where he would have had more time and space to do the things we know he is good at.

I'm not speaking from hindsight because I said from the outset that he would be better off starting at 12. Being at 10 is fine if your forwards are right on top, as Cardiff's were in the first game against Glasgow, but when you are getting stuffed up front you need to be able to rely on instinctive reactions.

It's what you do in the heat of battle that counts and for a man stepping up to international level after only two games in union there's no way he can react with the swiftness that is necessary.

The mistakes he made were the result of a lack of tactical knowledge of what to do under pressure. Twice he had kicks charged down, one resulted in a try, because he was standing too flat. Being flat is fine if you are going to run but you need to stand back in the pocket to give yourself space to take the kicking option before the chasers get to you.

I think it was a rugby league instinct that put Wales under pressure again when he to chipped out of defence in the second half, but the lack of Welsh chasers was poor on that occasion.

Stephen Jones would not have not have made those mistakes and neither would any leading Welsh outside-half. Two weeks ago I said that it was a sad reflection on the state of Welsh rugby if someone could walk straight from another code and take over the No 10 shirt. Even a player as brilliant as Iestyn couldn't do it with the Welsh pack in its present fragile state but even if the forwards were in better shape I doubt if he is yet in a position to do it better than Jones or the others vying for the position.

But, overall, Wales were poor and didn't ask any questions of their opponents. Neither was Graham Henry's response to their failings very encouraging. Apart from not getting Harris out of the firing line he made the odd decision to bring on Allan Bateman for Rhys Williams. What was that supposed to achieve?

On the bright side, Scott Quinnell had a terrific game and Kevin Morgan did very well but Wales are now left with game against Tonga and Australia in the next two weeks.

What are they going to do about Iestyn? There's no chance of a club game in the next fortnight so where is he going to learn. Does he get a game in the A side to help him get more acclimatised? Do they leave him out altogether? In my opinion, the only answer is to move him to 12 or 13 and work hard at the formation over the next 14 days. Tonga on Saturday are going to be enough of a challenge; the thought of Australia is enough to send a chill down our spines.

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