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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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'We were very open about that, we would have got a better Adam'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

New Newcastle boss Dave Walder has admitted to RugbyPass that the Falcons got their strategy wrong last season with England prospect Adam Radwan, who described the 2021/22 campaign as his hardest yet in rugby. The 25-year-old speedster won his second Test cap in last November’s Twickenham win over Tonga built he was unable to build on that try-scoring run and has instead recently spoken about his frustrations with his club form.

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Radwan signed off on the last term with just seven tries in 24 club appearances, a strike rate way behind his seven tries in eleven appearances the previous season at Newcastle, a better finishing percentage that resulted in Eddie Jones handing him a Test debut in July 2021 and the youngster going on to bag a try hat-trick.

Especially frustrating for Radwan was the travelling involved in being an unused member of the England Guinness Six Nations squad, something that leaked into his club game back at Newcastle.

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Having since been elevated to new DoR following the exit of Dean Richards after a decade at the helm, previous head coach Walder has criticised himself for not spotting the warning signs regarding Radwan and he had vowed to do better now that he is running the whole Kingston Park shooting match.

Asked ahead of this Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership round one match at home to Harlequins if he had set aside time for a proper one-to-one post-mortem with Radwan over the course of the pre-season, Walder admitted he had and added that he was blaming himself for the winger not setting the English league alight as he had done in previous campaigns.

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“We sat down and talked with the players, but especially with Adam and others who had been in the England set-up like Jamie Blamire. Adam especially found it very hard going up to London on a Monday and Tuesday training and then being told you are not needed and then coming back to your club on a Wednesday – and I didn’t think we helped.

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“We were very open about that. I sat with him early on and said if I had my time again probably one or two of the fixtures I wouldn’t have picked him for. He would have been annoyed and frustrated but in the long run, we would have got a better Adam. We didn’t help him from that side of it.

“From a playing side of it he has got his work-ons from England and he is as diligent a professional we have here. When you have someone like Mark Wilson on the coaching group who got to his position through sheer hard graft, commitment and dedication it’s brilliant because he can talk directly to people like Adam and Callum Chick, Jamie Blamire and all the other England hopefuls we have got about what it takes to get that level.

“Adam has been picking his brains and I’m really excited about what he can do for us this year. He is absolutely electric but we need to make sure that mentally he is in a good space. He is raring to go, raring to go.

“That [getting a third England cap] is his challenge and he is embracing it and he probably let it affect him and got a bit distracted and tried too hard last year. He is very instinctive, Adam, he is unbelievably fast.

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“It was highlighted on the England GPS units that he was one of the fastest speeds ever recorded, he has got that in him and he knows that. He has had a taste of it and he is desperate to get back in there and we will do everything we can to help him.”

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