Emyr Lewis: Welsh exodus could give Warren Gatland more choice

Former Wales international Emyr Lewis believes the exodus of Welsh players abroad will help the next generation flourish

Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland's Wales side won the 2012 Six Nations Championship

Warren Gatland

The exodus of Welsh players overseas could yet benefit Warren Gatland’s international side, according to former flanker Emyr Lewis.

Lewis fears for the future of Welsh regional rugby with the likes of Gethin Jenkins, Luke Charteris, Huw Bennett and Aled Brew all opting to leave the principality and head abroad this summer.

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips, fly-half James Hook and full-back Lee Byrne already ply their trade in France and with the riches on offer across the channel there is little sign of the trend slowing.

To add to the feeling of doom and gloom the Cardiff Blues were dumped out of the Heineken Cup 34-3 to Leinster at the weekend, with the Scarlets also losing in Europe to Brive.

But, with so many big names departing ahead of the imposition of a £3.5million salary cap next season, former Wales flanker Lewis claims those who emerge to fill their boots will strengthen Gatland’s hand.

“You can’t blame the players for going where the most money is being offered. Loyalty is gone these days,” he said.

“I can see a lot of players leaving either to play in England or in France and unfortunately that is going to affect the regional game.

“But it might help the national game because obviously there will be more players playing in Wales and eligible to play for Wales.”

© Sportsbeat 2012

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