Rob Howley hopeful of keeping top players in Wales

Wales head coach Rob Howley believes Welsh rugby will benefit from the introduction of central contracts or top-up payments

rob howley
Rob Howley is deputising for Warren Gatland Photo: National Assembly For Wales

rob howley

Welsh rugby could soon be given a boost with the introduction of central contracts or top-up payments, according to Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley.

The Welsh claimed a third Six Nations Grand Slam in seven years last season but have seen several members of those triumphant sides leave their home nation to play abroad.

However, Howley believes a system to help Welsh regional clubs keep their top players from the lure of Europe could be just around the corner.

“I’m sure over the next couple of months that something will come out from the Welsh Rugby Union,” he said.

“Now whether that is top ups or central contracts. It’s not a decision that can be put in place overnight.”

Cardiff Blues have already voiced fears that British Lion centre Jamie Roberts could be the latest player to make the lucrative switch to France following the cross-channel departure of compatriots Gethin Jenkins and Mike Phillips.

The Dragons are also facing the potential loss of Welsh International flanker Dan Lydiate, and Howley insists that something needs to be done to retain these players in the interest of their international careers.

A move to top up the salaries of these players is seen as key to the health of the international game, as availability and communication problems can present a barrier between club and country for those choosing to move abroad.

The WRU says it already pays £6m a year to the regions to help internationals’ wages, but further steps may see this increase as Welsh clubs fight to remain competitive at the domestic level.

Howley highlighted the need to get the decision right and avoid a knee-jerk reaction to the unfolding problem.

“There needs to be something to be put in place,” he added.

“I thinks it’s important we take time and the right business model is put in place to make sure we keep our Welsh players in Wales.”

© Sportsbeat 2012

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