Lydiate completes dual contract
Dan Lydiate has completed his dual contract move from Racing Metro to the Ospreys that will "send a message" about Welsh rugby's new bargaining power.
The British and Irish Lions flanker joins Sam Warburton on a National Dual Contract, as Welsh bosses aim to reverse the exodus of top talent to England and France.
The 26-year-old has been released by Racing Metro for an immediate return to Wales, and will start training with the Ospreys later this week.
Lydiate was given dispensation to join the Ospreys rather than return to first club Newport Gwent Dragons, with his wife keen to be close to her family in west Wales.
"I am extremely pleased we have been able to bring a player of Dan's undoubted calibre back home," said WRU chairman Gareth Davies.
"His decision will send a message out to Welsh qualified players that staying in Wales under the protection of a National Dual Contract offers a great opportunity."
Lydiate left the Dragons for Racing Metro last summer after seven years at the club but failed to settle in the French Top 14.
His quickfire return to the Welsh set-up follows months of politicking that led to the Rugby Services Agreement between union bosses and regional chiefs.
Head coach Warren Gatland will now turn attention to completing the remaining 10 dual deals he has lined up.
"I am delighted to have secured a National Dual Contract and I am looking forward to doing my best for the Ospreys while I aim to win selection for Wales," said Lydiate.
"Having a National Dual Contract gives me the certainty I need for my future and I will now be able to concentrate one hundred per cent on my rugby.
"I enjoyed my time with Racing Metro but this is the right move for me as I want to achieve my full potential as a player based here in Wales."
Chief executive Roger Lewis said Lydiate's deal represents the fruit of almost three years of pressing for dual contracts from the WRU.
"This is a landmark day for Welsh rugby and I am grateful to all involved for the level of cooperation this signifies," said Lewis.
"National Dual Contracts will help us keep international class talent here in Wales available for Regional rugby and for international selection.
"The WRU has been actively attempting to introduce National Dual Contracts for some two-and-a-half years, so securing Dan as a National Dual Contract player is a significant step forward.
"Dan Lydiate suddenly became available while Warren was preparing his list of National Dual Contract candidates which offered us the opportunity to bring a key international player back to Wales.
"All the players on National Dual Contracts will get the best coaching and conditioning while having their careers managed in ways which will ensure they achieve and maintain their full potential with the Regions and Wales.
"The aim of the contracts is to stem the flow of our best talent abroad and to ensure the players staying in Wales will have the very best care to prolong their careers at the highest level."
Wales boss Gatland expects the dual contract system to boost Test results in the long-run.
"This is an important step forward for Welsh rugby and will reap rewards in playing standards over the long term," said Gatland.
"We can now focus on ensuring all our best young players realise the best way for them to realise their talent in full is to stay in Wales under the new structure we have created."