Aviva Premiership
Powell delays Wasps deal amid World Cup fears
ESPNscrum Staff
January 11, 2011
Sale's Charlie Hodgson tackles Wasps' Andy Powell, Sale Sharks v London Wasps, Edgeley Park, Stockport, England, October 1, 2010
Andy Powell is keen to agree a new deal with Wasps © Getty Images

Andy Powell has held off on signing a new deal with Wasps as he fears that the move could jeopardise his chances of playing for Wales at the Rugby World Cup.

The No.8 has hit top form in recent weeks to help lift Wasps into play-off contention in the Aviva Premiership but The Daily Telegraph reports that he has been forced to delay any contract negotiations while player-release issues between the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and Premiership Rugby are ironed out.

The governing body of the 12 Premiership clubs will not release players for international duty before August 4 - the latest date possible and just days before Wales' warm-up game against England.

Wales boss Warren Gatland has previously described their stance as 'ridiculous' and confirmed that players such as Powell, Saracens centre Gavin Henson and Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel face missing out on the sport's showpiece event.

"Wales want Andy to play for Wales, Wasps want Andy to play for Wales and Andy wants to play for Wales but the problem is he can't sign a new contract until there is an agreement in place between the Welsh Rugby Union and Premiership Rugby," Powell's agent told the newspaper.

"We desperately need clarification on the situation because Andy wants to sign a new contract with Wasps but, at the same time, doesn't want to do anything to jeopardise his chances of playing at the World Cup."

The WRU has refused to enter into a dialogue with Premiership Rugby, preferring to pursue their complaints through the RFU.

"We are aware of Andy's situation and that he is delaying signing his new contract until he is sure of his availability of selection for the games," a spokesman said. "On player-release matters, the proper formality is for us to liaise with the relevant governing body, which in this case is the RFU, and we will be maintain a relevant dialogue and we hope that players get adequate release."

Premiership Rugby chief Mark McCafferty has previously defended their position and cited IRB regulations on player release. He is willing to negotiate provided the WRU are able to guarantee certain rest periods for players and also suitable insurance provisions.

"Our major concern is that the players, for whatever union they are eligible, have a break in June following the end of the season in May and then go into the national training camp at the beginning of July so they can then have a good month before the games in August," he said. "If we do release them in July, our only other issue is that all the proper insurance risk cover is in place.

"We are having negotiations with other unions but it is difficult to have a conciliatory approach when somebody is saying they won't speak to you. We need to get this sorted out as soon as possible and if the WRU won't negotiate with us, we may have to do this through the IRB."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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