Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Uncertainty impacts Welsh regions

Jamie Roberts is just one Welsh player to make the switch to France.

Scarlets boss Simon Easterby and his Cardiff Blues counterpart Phil Davies believe the current uncertainty over the future of the Heineken Cup is only adding to the level of difficulty the Welsh regions face in keeping their best players.

Success at international level, with four RBS 6 Nations Championship titles secured over the last nine years, has seen a drain of the best talent out of the principality.

The likes of Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Luke Charteris are all playing in France, while George North made a high-profile move to Northampton during the summer.

Lions and Blues stars Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny are being targeted by clubs in France, while the Scarlets prized asset is centre Jonathan Davies, who excelled Down Under.

All three are out of contract at the end of the season, and their respective bosses admit not knowing what, if any, cross-border competition, and resulting financial rewards, they can offer their players is a hindrance.

Easterby said: "It does not help for sure, the sooner this is resolved the better from our perspective.

"It has gone on long enough and we want to talk about the rugby and the players we want to retain, rather than worrying whether they are going somewhere else.

"Assuming we can resolve this and the sooner the WRU, who are acting on our behalf, resolve the matter with ERC and the other nations the sooner we can concentrate on keeping players and playing in this competition for many years to come."

Blues rugby director Davies added of Warburton and Halfpenny.

"They are two world class players and they are attracting interest at the moment, as you would expect," he said.

"That has never changed, it's part and parcel of rugby.

"We have a few players out of contract at the end of the season and we plan for the best case scenario, that's all we can do.

"What the reality is after that, who knows? The administrators are quality guys and hopefully it will be put to bed as soon as possible.

"Our chief executive is working hard with their parties and we will see how that goes along."

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