Scarlets win Ospreys' chief's Cuddy's backing over 'vultures' concern

Rhys Priestland and George North
Rhys Priestland and George North starred for Wales at the World Cup

Coach Nigel Davies has admitted the "vultures are circling" around the Scarlets' Welsh World Cup heroes.

And Daves has won the sympathy of Ospreys backer Mike Cuddy over the Scarlets' rising stars being targets for big-spending European teams.

"It would frighten me to death to be in a position that these guys are down the Scarlets," said Cuddy.

He added: "If someone offers £500,000 [a year to a player] there's nothing... Welsh rugby, really, can do."

Young Scarlets backs impressed in New Zealand as George North, Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams all scored three tries at their first World Cup.

Rhys Priestland was also widely praised for his displays at fly-half and Davies fears they could become targets for big-spending foreign clubs.

"We have to make sure we look after our assets," said Scarlets coach Davies.

The Llanelli-based region's recent accounts revealed a £5.5m debt but the Scarlets insist they do not need to sell their best players to survive.

North, aged 19, has been compared with All Black great Jonah Lomu and the 6ft 3in wing, who has scored nine tries in 15 Wales caps, has been hailed as a "once in a generation" player by Davies.

North's Wales team-mates Mike Phillips, James Hook and Lee Byrne have already secured big-money moves to France and Davies knows his stars are courting interest.

Wales regular Davies scored in Wales' World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland while 21-year-old Williams scored a hat-trick in Wales' 81-7 pool rout of Namibia.

North and Williams signed in March while fly-half Priestland's current deal runs until 2014.

Ospreys managing director Cuddy told BBC Radio Wales' Saturday morning programme The Back Page: "You look down to the Scarlets - you look at someone like George North - where would he go?

"It's like Shane Williams being 22. Where would Shane Williams go?

"George North is a big guy, he's got everything, he's 19 years old and it would frighten me to death to be in a position that these guys are down the Scarlets with all the good players that they've got. It's very, very difficult.

"The reality is if someone offers £500,000 there's nothing we can do and nothing Welsh rugby, really, can do."

Former Wales centre Davies has already admitted he has a "back-line to die for" so the former Wales assistant coach understands there may be attention from richer foreign clubs.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us because we're working with a finite budget," said Davies.

"I think we have done a reasonably good job in developing these players and the group behind them with resources we've got currently

"Fortunately last season we signed up a lot of these players for the next two or three years so that gives us a little bit of breathing space.

"But there's no doubt the vultures are circling and we have to make sure we look after our assets."

Listen to The Back Page's interview with Mike Cuddy, Saturday on BBC Radio Wales from 0830 GMT.

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