Rhys Priestland signs Scarlets extension to extend Wales stay

Wales international Rhys Priestland signs a contract extension with the Scarlets

Scarlets and Wales star Rhys Priestland Photo: National Assembly for Wales

Rhys Priestland has become the latest Wales star to commit his future to Welsh rugby after signing a new deal with the Scarlets.

The 26-year-old outside-half had been courted by a number of Aviva Premiership clubs and offered a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union, but the Wales international has penned a contract extension with the Scarlets.

It’s important to me to continue my commitment to a great rugby community, environment and team that I am proud to be a part of

Rhys Priestland

“I’m really pleased to secured my contract with the Scarlets going forward and continue my commitment to rugby in Wales,” said Priestland.

“As Scarlets we want to push on next season, we have some exciting players to make that happen and drive us forward and I want to be part of a team that takes that ambition and helps makes it become a reality for our region.”

The west Wales-based side faced the prospect of losing their three biggest Welsh names in Priestland, Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams, but only Davies has decided to pursue his career elsewhere, agreeing to join Clermont Auvergne in the summer.

Priestland added: “It’s important to me to continue my commitment to a great rugby community, environment and team that I am proud to be a part of.

“We have a very strong team ethic at the Scarlets, we’re a tight group. It’s good to belong to an environment that means a lot to me as an individual and has a real heritage and tradition as well.

“I’m pleased to have this all decided now, so I can focus on our Six Nations rugby campaign before returning back to the Scarlets for what should be an exciting finish to the league season.”

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby talked up the culture and loyalty in Llanelli as one of the reasons why he was able to keep a hold of the current Wales fly-half.

“Rhys has become one of our most experienced players and has a lot to contribute to the region on and off the field,” Easterby said.

“He’s a key figure in our squad, an intelligent rugby player who thinks quickly, reads a game well.

“A lot has been said about how to retain our best players in Wales and while market forces can be difficult to battle at times, there is another dimension to this discussion and that’s about creating a regional rugby environment and culture that engenders loyalty, motivation and drive in players with the support to succeed.”

Priestland was dubbed one of the “big six” out-of-contract Welsh players this summer along with Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones.

Of the six, only Ospreys’ Adam Jones has yet to decide where his future lies, with big-money contracts reportedly on the table from France’s Top 14 seeking to lure the tighthead prop away from south Wales.

Williams and Alun Wyn Jones both committed to new contracts with their regional clubs, with Halfpenny unable to reject a money-spinning deal from Heineken Cup champions Toulon which was far greater than either offer from Cardiff Blues or the WRU.

Only Wales captain Warburton has signed a central contract with the WRU, although his future at the Blues remains uncertain as the regions maintain they won’t field centrally-contracted players.

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