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Lee Byrne reveals the truth about Robert Howley and Welsh rugby management

Retired Welsh international rugby union player Lee Byrne has spoken publicly for the first time about the treatment he suffered under Robert Howley in his new tell-all autobiography, The Byrne Identity, out now.

Lifting the lid on his toxic relationship and refusal to play under Robert Howley, Lee gives a damning verdict on the former Welsh rugby union player turned coach.

‘I was eased out of the Wales team; subjected, in my view, to bullying treatment; dragged back and forth from Clermont to squad training in Wales without WRU reimbursement for travel expenses, just to hold tackle bags’ says Lee, ‘By the end of 2013, there’d been no communication with the management for two years, but here was a man – a man who I felt had tried to humiliate me in front of my teammates – ringing up and expecting me to come running because he’d clicked his fingers’.

The Byrne Identity charts Lee’s meteoric rise from a childhood on a tough estate in Bridgend through teenage years on building sites across Europe to rugby stardom at the very top of world rugby, earning forty-six caps for Wales and securing his place as one of the nation’s best-ever full backs and one of the brightest talents to grace the Welsh game.

Lee talks frankly about the joy of playing at the highest level for the Scarlets, the Ospreys, Wales and the Lions, and gives an insider’s glimpse into Welsh rugby under Warren Gatland and the tactics and psychology employed.

The autobiography has already been dubbed ‘rugby book of the year’ by Wales on Sunday.

In this candid, no-holds-barred autobiography, Lee Byrne reveals all for the first time about the gambling habit he managed to kick, how he’s come to terms with dyslexia, and how he struggled with depression after his enforced early retirement due to injury. He also gives an insight into players’ and coaches’ hilarious off-field antics, the rugby drinking culture that exists within Welsh rugby, and opens up about how the death of his good friend Jerry Collins affected him.

‘After two somewhat tough years following my forced retirement from the game, I felt the time had come to tell my story,’ explained Lee. ‘Despite my unconventional route into rugby, I managed to make it to the pinnacle of the game, playing nearly fifty times for Wales and representing the British and Irish Lions. I had talent, perhaps, but it also required an awful lot of hard work.’

‘There’s also much about the sheer joy of playing rugby at the highest level, and the fun I had off the field,’ he added.

The book includes a foreword written by his friend and Welsh International, Shane Williams.

‘Straight away you could tell [Lee] was a good player. Within a couple of years he was being talked about as the best full back in the world, and rightly so,’ said Shane.

Former England star Jeremy Guscott also waxes lyrical about Lee’s abilities. ‘Lee played sublime rugby that really stood out. Great players have the ability to slow everything down… Lee certainly had that ability. A world-class full back with an exceptional skill-set – sheer class.’

Lee currently runs rugby camps for young players, and pursues a number of business interests. He is an ambassador for Tomorrow’s Generation, a dyslexia charity based in Cardiff. He lives in Bridgend.

The autobiography was co-written by television journalist and sports reporter Richard Morgan.

Lee Byrne will be embarking on a book signing tour to promote his book, beginning in Llanelli on November 3rd, and will visit Swansea, Carmarthen, Newport, Cwmbran, Penarth and Bridgend.