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Willis Halaholo says some social media criticism of Wales rugby selection was 'racially motivated'

Credit: PA Images

Cardiff Blues centre Willis Halaholo believes some of the social media criticism of his selection for the Wales squad was racially motivated.

Halaholo, who was born in New Zealand but qualifies through residency, was named in coach Wayne Pivac's first squad since taking over from Warren Gatland ahead of November's clash with the Barbarians.

The 29-year-old later pulled out of the squad due to a knee injury that is expected to keep him sidelined until the end of the season, but criticised the "haters" on Twitter at the time, saying that they had got their wish.

Halaholo, who is of Tongan descent, said he was especially frustrated by "the ones that think it's OK for the other two Kiwi-born to represent Wales but not me" - a reference to Hadleigh Parkes and Johnny McNicholl, who have also qualified for Wales through residency.

Halaholo was named in coach Wayne Pivac's first squad since taking over from Warren Gatland. Credit: PA Images

"I sort of (expected it) because I'd already seen a build-up towards it.

"I never go looking for it, though. It's just there are some trolls out there that tag me in it, and there's no need. I don't need a notification about you talking about me in that way or saying I don't deserve to be here."

He continued: "I have nothing against the (residency) rule - if you're against the rule, that's fine. I don't care, that's your opinion, but it's more like picking and choosing who they think deserves it.

"For me, I've seen two other Kiwi-born players receive a huge welcome but then there's a few question marks over me. I don't know whether that just comes to race or the way I am, my persona... I'm not too sure.

"I had seen some racist comments."