Planet Rugby

Welsh regions scramble to keep stars

08th January 2014 06:48

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Scott Williams Scarlets v Quins HEC 2013

In limbo: Scott Williams

Six out-of-contract Welsh players who are understood to have been offered new deals by both their regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

According to reports in the Welsh press, Scott Williams, Rhys Priestland, Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Adam Jones have been offered new contracts but have yet to sign amidst the uncertainty created by the escalating crisis over where the regions will compete next season.

Scarlets coach Simon Easterby has confirmed that Williams and Priestland have been given "firm offers" by the region - who have already lost Jonathan Davies to Clermont - but admits the current climate of uncertainty is hampering the prospects of retaining their best players, who find themselves "in limbo."

"We want to keep hold of these players, but currently we have no resolution of what is going to happen, where we are going to be playing and who we will be playing against, and then there is the funding," Easterby told the BBC.

"Ultimately, players are going to hold off and feel like they don't want to commit to something...when they are unaware of what is happening.

"It has been a big issue for me and we cannot hide from it now. It's been going on too long and we need to protect the players and we need to keep them here in Wales. The longer it goes on, the less chance there is of these guys staying."

Blues chief Phil Davies has revealed that several recent meetings have been held with Halfpenny and Warburton, as both players are heavily linked with moves to France.

"I know Peter Thomas (Blues chairman) and Richard Holland (chief executive) have chatted to them on two or three occasions," he told Wales Online.

It has also been reported that the WRU has approached each of the six players over potential central contracts, with the intention of leasing the players back to the Welsh regions, although the regions' current contract policy would not allow for such a scenario.

Williams says he would ideally like to stay with the Scarlets, and hopes the regions and union will be able to reach a settlement soon.

"It is a frustrating time for us players with everything that's going on," the 23-year-old told Wales Online..

"Nobody is really sure what's happening.

"I am just keeping talking to the Scarlets, keeping close to them, that is where we are at the moment.

"The ideal scenario would be for the WRU and regions to sort something out and for me to stay.

"Of course, you don't want to be going into the later part of the season where you still have not signed anywhere and you are not sure where you are going to be the next season," he said.

"So, the earlier it is sorted the better so you can put your mind to rest."

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