Gatland to shut door on Europe

Wales coach Warren Gatland is pushing a new proposal to keep national prospects involved in Welsh club rugby.

Like the New Zealanders, who don’t consider foreign-based players for their national team, Gatland has suggested any player who pursues a club career outside the Welsh borders puts their international future at risk. Players who are already contracted to foreign clubs will not be effected, but Gatland is determined to strengthen the domestic structure by keeping more players at home.

Gatland is being backed by Wales Rugby Union CEO Roger Lewis, another former Waikato man. The proposal will be discussed by representatives from the four regions and put to the WRU for approval on 24 January.

Not everybody is behind the proposal with Wales Players’ Union chief Richard Harry slamming the move.

“The problem the union has at the minute is lack of depth and that is precisely the reason why it won’t work, certainly in the short term.

“Let us say scrum-halves Dwayne Peel and Mike Phillips both leave, I couldn’t for one second think Warren Gatland wouldn’t consider them for the national team. I just don’t think it would happen.

“What the union are saying is something the player would need to consider but I don’t think it would stop any player who was seriously considering a lucrative contract,” said Harry.