Gareth Anscombe: Wales fly-half enjoys winding up Twitter trolls

Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe has won 19 caps for Wales, either at outside-half or full-back

Wales outside-half Gareth Anscombe says he has learned not to bite when he receives abuse on social media.

The 27-year-old came in for some criticism after a spell of injuries when he first joined Cardiff Blues and is part of a national debate over who should wear the 10 shirt for Wales.

Anscombe described Wales as a "bit of a fish bowl" where everyone likes to "throw out an opinion" on Twitter.

"For some reason my name seems to bring out the worst in some people," he said.

Anscombe helped New Zealand Under 20s win the Junior World Championship in 2011 and made his name playing Super Rugby for Waikato Chiefs before joining the Blues four years ago.

He qualifies to play for Wales through his mother and made his debut against Ireland in August 2015.

With stiff competition from Northampton's Dan Biggar and Scarlets' Rhys Patchell, Anscombe has played much of his international rugby at full-back.

But he has started back-to-back Tests against Scotland and Australia in his preferred outside-half position in the autumn series.

Speaking on Scrum V's rugby podcast, Anscombe admitted it is a position that attracts a lot of criticism on Twitter, and the fact people can tag him in their comments means "you can't avoid it".

Gareth Anscombe and Dan Biggar
Gareth Anscombe says competition for the 10 shirt is a 'good thing' for the Wales squad

"Fly halves are going to come in for extra attention because they're so involved in the game, it's part of the reason I love playing 10," he said.

"You're not going to impress everyone, but I'm very comfortable with what comes my way these days and you've got to take the rough with the smooth," added Anscombe, who has found a novel way of responding.

"I tend to favourite what they say. I have more enjoyment trying to wind them up.

"My partner is a bit more protective, she tends to want to bite back, but she's learnt now that you've just got to let people be.

"I guess I learnt a little while ago that the most important thing is earning the respect of my team mates and the coaches, and if they're happy I can live with that."

Anscombe admits it took some time to adjust to social media since moving to Wales.

"In New Zealand, certainly back then, I think Twitter was probably more for your celebrities, whereas over here everyone has got it and everyone wants to chuck out an opinion."

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All pictures: Huw Evans Agency

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