Wales' dual contracts close – Gatland

Date published: September 10 2014

Wales boss Warren Gatland hopes to have his country's first dual-contracted players signed up within the next “three or four weeks”.

Wales boss Warren Gatland hopes to have his country's first dual-contracted players signed up within the next “three or four weeks”.

Several Test players are set to sign contracts that will be funded by Wales' four professional regional teams and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The initiative is part of a new six-year agreement which the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union set up following months of in-fighting.

£3.3million will be used to fund national player contracts annually, with the WRUcontributing 60 per cent and the regions 40 per cent.

Wales skipper Sam Warburton has already switched from a central contract to a dual one, while team-mates like Alex Cuthbert, Taulupe Faletau, Alun-Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins and Dan Biggar could also be amongst those wh osign dual deals.

“We have put a list together and we have to present that to the PRGB (Professional Regional Game Board) about potential players we are interested in,” said Gatland.

“We have got a finite amount of money. Hopefully, we can get between 10 and 15 players to be on those dual contracts and for the players to be excited about being on them.

“The money is there, it is coming from the same pot, it's just how it's being spread out. Hopefully, in the next three or four weeks we will get players signed on a national dual contract.

“For them, they will have the certainty of where they are going to be the next two or three years or whatever, and what is associated with having a dual contract.

“The players we are looking at for dual contracts are already in contract. They are already signed up to their clubs, so they are fairly secure.”

Several of Wales' top players like Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, George North and Dan Lydiate have decided to further their careers in in France and England.

But Gatland believes that the introduction of dual contracts could see a turnaround of that market trend.

“I can understand why players want to go to France for a short period and experience life out there – two or three seasons,” he added.

“Money has been the driving factor, but then they have realised that playing in a good side and being happy, hopefully have good coaching and longevity of career, that a lot of other factors come into play about making those decisions.

“I think we will hopefully see, over the next couple of seasons, a number of players returning from France.

“We are limited by the amount of money we have got. We only have a finite amount, and possibly, the number will go down.

“Most rugby contracts, unfortunately, don't tend to go down, they tend to go up, so we will probably end up with less players on dual contracts.

“But you never know, with new TV deals and sponsorship, there might be more money to go into that pot to attract players.

“We have got to be aware of that over the next few weeks, when we do those dual contracts, to potentially leave some money there to try and attract one or two players back from overseas next season.”
Gatland, meanwhile, revealed that Wales' plans ahead of next year's World Cup will include training camps in Switzerland and Qatar.

“We have got a high-altitude camp in Switzerland, which is being planned, and we are doing a warm weather camp in Qatar,” he said.

“I think we have got 12-14 days in Switzerland. We are going to sleep high, train low, going up by cable car to sleep,” the New Zealander added.

“We have had that planning in place for the last three months or so and have prepared for all that.

“The thing with the altitude training is not so much that you train at it, it's just the physiological benefits you get from it.

“The challenge is doing that in Switzerland at altitude and also at 45-50 degrees centigrade in Qatar.”

World Cup hosts England had previously announced plans of their own to hold a two-week high-altitude training camp in Colorado in July.

Training at altitude, where the air is thinner so the body has to work harder for oxygen, was pioneered by distance runners.

The short-term benefit is that it accelerates the process of fat-burning but neither Wales nor England are expected to be at altitude for long enough to gain a major respiratory benefit ahead of the World Cup, which starts in mid-September 2015.