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‘I wouldn’t rule him out of Wales Test return’ — Shane Williams on star’s Welsh rugby comeback amid Gareth Anscombe warning

Shane Williams has raised the possibility of Rhys Priestland rolling back the years and once again playing for Wales.

The legendary wing has also warned about the dangers of rushing Gareth Anscombe back into action too quickly after his long lay-off from rugby. According to Williams, doing so “would be criminal”.

Dan Biggar started all three Tests for the British and Irish Lions this summer and will be favourite to wear the Wales No. 10 jersey for the autumn, but Williams will be watching what happens with interest.

Read more: Priestland named in top 10 fly-halves English top flight has ever seen

Available to the national selectors once again is Priestland after his return to Welsh rugby from Bath, while Anscombe is on course to resume at regional level after the knee injury he suffered playing for Wales against England at Twickenham in August 2019.

Priestland is 34 now and hasn’t played Test rugby since 2017, but he was an unqualified success at Bath and Williams reckons it isn’t out of the question that Cardiff Rugby’s new acquisition will add to the 50 caps he already has under his belt.

“Dan Biggar has been the number one fly-half for a while now, but I think there could be an interesting dynamic at No. 10 this autumn,” Williams writes in his weekly column in The Rugby Paper.

“I’m fascinated by Rhys Priestland’s move back to Welsh rugby and I wouldn’t rule him out of an international return, even though he is at the end of his career and hasn’t played Test rugby since 2017.

“It will be interesting to see how both he and Jarrod Evans go at Cardiff.

“Rhys Patchell should also be back in action this season and then there is Callum Sheedy who is a coming force.

“Wayne Pivac really is spoilt for choice in that area when everyone is fit.”

It will also be intriguing to see how Anscombe goes when he starts playing again. Wales’ starting fly-half from the Grand Slam campaign of 2019, he has been training with the Ospreys this summer after an absence from the playing arena which is approaching 750 days.

But Williams feels caution should be the watchword over the 30-year-old.

“It’s great news Gareth Anscombe is poised to make his long-awaited return from injury this season because he is a player the Ospreys, and to a lesser extent Wales, need desperately,” he says.

“But I must make my opinion clear that we cannot rush Gareth back into action too quickly. To do so would be criminal.

“I was lucky not to suffer serious injury in my career. So, while it is difficult for me to relate to Gareth’s situation because I never spent two years on the sidelines, I do know what it is like to miss months of action.

“It is an awful experience.

“You are constantly worried if you are going to come back as the same player and there are worries over losing your place both at regional and Test level.

“Gareth will have experienced all those emotions. It must have been very tough, which is why it would be criminal to throw it all away now.

“I am sure that won’t happen, but I do have a small concern especially when it comes to the Ospreys because I think they desperately need a playmaker at 10 for the start of the new United Rugby Championship. Stephen Myler has done a great job since coming in, but he is a very different player to Gareth, who is superb at taking the ball to the line in attack.

“Toby Booth must resist the temptation to throw Gareth back in too soon because I think it would be a brilliant achievement if he can get some form of games in before Christmas.”

Booth is unlikely to need telling on that score.

Rather than hurry Keelan Giles back into frontline action last season after his prolonged stint on the sidelines, the Ospreys coach opted for a softly, softly return for the young wing, saying: “He’s been out for a long time, so our aim is to get him back so he can stay back rather than come in and out.”

It’s more than likely that will be the approach with Anscombe, too.

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