Temperatures turned up ahead of autumn tests
IT has been simmering for a long time, but yesterday the James Hook issue started to boil after Warren Gatland offered an insight into his thinking on one of Welsh rugby's biggest talents.
Unsurprisingly, Hook's agent Derwyn Jones wanted a say as well.
By the end of the day, we had what broadsheet newspapers would call a sharp exchange of views and what red-tops might style a war of words. What was beyond doubt was that the temperature had been significantly turned up.
But Hook is at least in Gatland's 35-strong squad.
After speculation that he would miss out, despite showing majestic form for his club Perpignan in the Heineken Cup, his name was there when the squad sheet was presented to the press.
Conspiracy theorists kicked around the possibility that he could have been called up late after Alex Cuthbert withdrew through injury. No-one could verify such a view.
But Gatland then offered the fullest explanation yet on why the former Osprey hasn't been a central figure in his plans for the past two years.
Gatland said: "I spoke to James (yesterday morning) and was honest with him.
"I (had) said to him: 'If you're going to go to France, make sure you negotiate full release.
"We were under the impression that his agent had negotiated that, so I'm disappointed that wasn't done properly with his agent. Other players have been able to do that.
"So James has not been fully available for all training, all the Six Nations and missing that fourth game in the autumn.
"That puts him at a disadvantage to other players that are available all the time. If you are making decisions to go away you have to make sure you don't disadvantage yourself.
"He hasn't featured a lot in the last couple of seasons and he's desperate and hungry to come into the squad and perform well. He wants to show everyone that he's as keen as ever to play for Wales. I was pleased to hear that in the conversation I had with him, in terms of where is mind-set is.
"He's been playing quite a bit at full-back. He's played the last couple of games at ten. It's ironic that we picked him at full-back and thought he was quite good there on a few occasions. He's had a couple of good performances. He had a good game against Gloucester and he played well at the weekend, kicked well."
Cue a response from Jones, whose stable of players includes Dan Lydiate, Paul James and Luke Charteris, all of whom are playing outside Wales, like Hook.
"I'm disappointed with Warren's comments," said Jones.
"If he is saying James hasn't been chosen consistently for the past two years because he is unavailable for one Test a year, I would question whether it has been down to that.
"Only Warren can answer whether he feels James has been good enough to play for Wales.
"When a player moves abroad he has to ask himself the question whether he is going to stay in Wales based on whether Warren Gatland will pick him or not."
The sound of discord could be heard elsewhere, too.
From France, Lee Byrne, who has been outstanding for Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup this season, made his displeasure felt over his omission, taking to Twitter to say in fewer than 140 characters: "Gutted to be overlooked by Wales again obviously squad was picked on blooding players for WC not on form or playing ability."
Ouch — though he isn't exactly competing with slouches at full-back in Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams.
Mike Phillips was named in Gatland's line-up, despite his problems in France, where he was this week called on to explain himself to Bayonne's directors after allegedly reporting for a video analysis session while under the influence of alcohol.
Gatland certainly wasn't over-alarmed about that, though he did promise a quiet chat with Phillips.
"It's a French decision, a Bayonne decision," said the New Zealander. "Those are issues for him to sort out. All I can say is that for the last few campaigns with us he has been great.
"On the Lions tour he conducted himself extremely well on and off the field. I am expecting the same again.
"There is obviously a slight concern that this is not something that is been repeated. There has been other incidents in the past and we will sit down and have a quiet chat to see what he is doing. But there are not going to be any sanctions here."
Those unlucky to miss out include Samson Lee, James King and Aaron Shingler.
Putting everything into perspective, Gatland offered a few words of support for Matthew Rees, who is to undergo testicular surgery.
"I spoke to Matthew a few days ago," he said. "It's a very tough time for him, but he has our full support.
"Hopefully, fingers crossed, things will work out in the best possible way for him."
Rugby is important, but some things matter more. Much more.