Players 'frustrated' by rugby rows, says Rhys Priestland

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland says he and other leading Welsh players cannot make decisions over their futures amid rows between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions.

Uncertainty centres on disputes over funding and cross-border competitions.

Priestland's contract expires at the end of the season and he could be among six players offered a WRU deal.

"It's very hard to make a decision when you don't know what's going on," said the 26-year-old.

Priestland, centre Scott Williams, Wales captain Sam Warburton, full-back Leigh Halfpenny, lock Alun Wyn Jones and prop Adam Jones are out of contract at the end of the 2013-14 season.

The WRU gave regions Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys an ultimatum to make offers to leading players whose deals expire at the end of the term.

What is a central contract?

A player's contract is held by the Union and not by his club, province or region.

The Union, which pays his wages, can then determine where, when and even what position he plays.

New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Scotland all have their own variations of a central contract.

Thursday, 20 December was the date given for that initiative to take place.

After that, the WRU was pondering offering players such as Warburton, Williams and Halfpenny contracts to remain in Wales rather than see them join players at foreign clubs, such as Racing Metro trio Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and Mike Phillips.

Scarlet Williams has been linked with Wasps while Blues Halfpenny and Warburton, and the Ospreys Jones duo have attracted interest from French clubs.

Priestland has won 24 Wales caps and starred at the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Wales Six Nations Grand Slam that followed.

He said: "I'm not sure we can expect players to commit themselves to something when nobody has a clue what's going on.

"It's not just me in that situation.

"I think there's a few players that feel quite frustrated at the moment."

Scarlets controversially allowed star wing George North to join Northampton ahead of the current campaign, ending the British and Irish Lions star's contract in west Wales a year early.

And Ospreys have agreed to fellow Lion Richard Hibbard ending his deal 12 months before it expires and he will join Gloucester for next season.

The WRU has given the four Welsh regions until 31 December, 2013 to sign a fresh Participation Agreement.

The Agreement places obligations on both sides, for example tying the regions into playing in the Pro12 and Heineken Cup and making players available for international matches, while setting out the funding coming from the WRU for the next five years.

Gwyn Jones, the former Wales captain, has previously stated he believes the WRU is prepared to see the regions become weakened to the point at which the governing body would take control of them.

And in a debate on Scrum V on Sunday, 22 December, Jones said he believes that seeing the WRU taking over would put the game on the same footing as New Zealand and Ireland.

"Ultimately when you look at this on a more philosophical basis, I think the Welsh model of rugby is more suited and closer to the Irish model and the New Zealand model," said Jones.