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Priestland happy at Scarlets

Rhys Priestland has given a ringing endorsement of the Scarlets' "rugby community" after agreeing a contract extension with the Llanelli-based region.

The Wales fly-half, who is set to win his 28th cap in Friday's RBS 6 Nations clash against France, had reportedly attracted interest from Aviva Premiership clubs Wasps, Leicester and Gloucester.

He was also among a group of top-flight Wales players identified for a possible Welsh Rugby Union national contract, but the 26-year-old has pledged his future at Parc-y-Scarlets.

Priestland follows his Wales team-mate Scott Williams in signing a new Scarlets deal, while Wales lock Alun-Wyn Jones last month penned fresh terms at the Ospreys.

With Wales captain Sam Warburton signing a WRU contract and full-back Leigh Halfpenny having confirmed a move to wealthy European champions Toulon next term, it leaves only 91 times-capped prop Adam Jones among Wales' major out-of-contract names still to resolve where he will play beyond this season.

Priestland has won 27 caps and was part of Wales' 2012 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning team. He also featured in the 2011 World Cup campaign, when Wales were semi-finalists.

"I am really pleased to have secured my contract with the Scarlets going forward and to continue my commitment to rugby in Wales," he said.

"The Scarlets is where I've developed as a rugby player and have been supported since I first started playing, with some good coaches and experienced senior players helping me in my career.

"It's important to me to continue my commitment to a great rugby community, environment and team that I am proud to be a part of.

"We have a very strong team ethic at the Scarlets, and it is good to belong to an environment that means a lot to me as an individual and has a real heritage and tradition as well.

"I'm pleased to have this all decided now, so I can focus on our Six Nations campaign before returning back to the Scarlets for what should be an exciting finish to the league season."

Several of the current Wales squad either ply their trade in England or France, avenues that Priestland could easily have followed.

But his decision to stay put represents a major coup for the Scarlets.

"Rhys has become one of our most experienced players and has a lot to contribute to the region on and off the field," Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby said.

"He's a key figure in our squad, an intelligent rugby player who thinks quickly and reads a game well.

"A lot has been said about how to retain our best players in Wales.

"While market forces can be difficult to battle at times, there is another dimension to this discussion and that's about creating a regional rugby environment and culture that engenders loyalty, motivation and drive in players with the support to succeed.

"It was really important to us all to keep Rhys and other players at Parc y Scarlets - our supporters will be delighted too, as he is a popular local player.

"We are delighted that someone of his ability, experience and with genuine passion for our region has committed to remain with us."

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