Gatland targets 10 for central contracts
August 3, 2014
Sam Warburton is currently the only Wales player on a central contract with the WRU © Getty Images
Warren Gatland has drawn up a shortlist of 10 Wales-based players he wants to see offered dual club-and-country contracts for the new season.
The Wales head coach is set to attempt to restart negotiations between the warring WRU and regions over the terms of proposed central contracts for some of his key men. With the World Cup just over a year away, Gatland wants to see players tied down to regional rugby to guarantee their availability for the national side.
The list, revealed in the Rugby Paper, includes Wales captain Sam Warburton, a player who has already signed a deal with the WRU. Gatland wants others to follow Warburton's lead in signing up to central contracts, with the regions also providing funding for the scheme.
The 10 names on the list are:
Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues)
Gatland is also understood to have a secondary list of 27 players he would like to see offered central contracts in due course. That list includes four teenagers - the Dragons' Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon and Hallam Amos, and the Ospreys' Dafydd Howells.
Wales prop Adam Jones is not featured on either list because Gatland believed he had agreed to play in England next season. Jones was set to sign for Bristol, who then planned to sub-contract him to Sale Sharks until the Championship play-offs for promotion to the Premiership.
That deal fell through after Sale pulled out, with the Rugby Paper reporting that Jones' regional side Ospreys continued to pay him in June, despite his contract with them officially expiring in May. Despite speculation that his future might lie with French champions Toulon, Jones appears to have little alternative than to return to Ospreys for the new season.
A player signing a dual club-and-country contract would be employed by both the WRU and his region. A sticking point is likely to arise over the number of days a dual-contract player is made available for the national side and how many matches he is forced to miss for his region.
The WRU is prepared to put up £2 million for the scheme, with the regions providing another £2m. Gatland, who had thought a deal was within reach before he went on holiday to his native New Zealand, will be frustrated to discover the two parties are still a long way from an agreement.
Warburton signed a three-year deal with the WRU in January, with the Union releasing him to play for Cardiff Blues. The WRU made an unsuccessful bid to sign a further five players to central contracts, but men such as the Ospreys' Alun-Wyn Jones opted to sign renewed deals with their regions.
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