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Wales quartet sign dual contracts

Four more players have signed National Dual Contracts in Wales to take the current total number to 12.

Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar, Scott Williams and the uncapped Gareth Anscombe have all become NDC players just 24 hours after Rhys Webb was announced as the eighth signing.

The four latest signings join Webb, captain Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Jake Ball, Samson Lee, Rhodri Jones, Tyler Morgan and Hallam Amos.

Wales coach, Warren Gatland, said: "Alun Wyn, Dan, Scott and Gareth represent a cross-section of experience, but each one of them is a player of proven talent.

"Within the group of 12 we have signed a mixture of emerging talent and players who have secured reputations for excellence through their appearances for their regions, Wales and the British & Irish Lions.

"The strength of the group is of great benefit to professional rugby in Wales and we are looking forward to working closely with the regions and these players in the years ahead."

Ospreys second-row forward Jones, who captained the Lions in their final Test victory in Australia in 2013, is the most high-profile of the new quartet to sign.

"For me the National Dual Contract allows me to continue playing with ambition for the Ospreys and put myself in the best position to be selected for Wales," Jones said.

"Hopefully, now a good number of players have committed to this process, there will be a clear pathway of progression for youth and regional players to perform on the international stage."

Ospreys team-mate Biggar said: "I'm thrilled to have signed an NDC and honoured to have been considered for one in the first place.

"After a lot of consideration it's apparent that it's in the best interests of all parties."

Williams, who scored Wales' try in their 23-16 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland last weekend, added: "I am very grateful to all the assistance I have at the Scarlets and within the Wales coaching structure, and I am now looking forward to continuing to work as hard as I can within Welsh rugby."

The announcement of the four new deals comes just three days before Wales play Italy in Rome with a chance of winning the Six Nations title, although they have ground to make up on England and Ireland on the final weekend of the championship.

Welsh Rugby Union Group chief executive Roger Lewis said: "We have achieved our ambition of securing some of our most talented players under the umbrella of National Dual Contracts.

"This is a landmark moment for Welsh rugby and serves as evidence of our ambition to protect and develop regional rugby while ensuring the national squad can remain competitive in the top tier of the international game."

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