Wales: Gareth Thomas - dual contracts are dangerous

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas scored the first try in the second Test between New Zealand and the British and Irish Lions in 2005

Offering Welsh players dual contracts is a mistake, says ex-Wales and British and Irish Lions skipper Gareth Thomas.

Home-based Test stars will be offered the terms as part of the new agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the four regions.

The deal, until 2020, means at least six key home-based internationals will be on such contracts.

"You're taking a team sport and you're picking out individuals which is a very dangerous thing to do," said Thomas.

"I personally don't think it can work."

The 2005 Lions captain added: "It's great for those players [awarded dual contracts], but what is that saying to those other players and the potential talent that we have coming through?

"If I was one of the ones left out... and somebody offered me something across the [Severn] bridge, I'd take it purely out of principle."

Gareth Thomas on dual contracts
"I think when you're a part of a team and part of a squad, everybody has a role to play and everybody is as important as everybody else."

In recent years Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets have seen internationals join clubs in England and France.

Leigh Halfpenny,Jonathan Davies and Richard Hibbard became the latest Wales players to depart during the summer as the Welsh rugby dispute continued.

Wales captain Sam Warburton, the only player to currently be centrally contracted, said the new dual contracts would help halt the exodus of Welsh players.

But Thomas, who won 100 caps for Wales between 1995 and 2007, disagrees.

"We have a massive pool of amazingly talented players [in Wales]," he said.

"I think when you're a part of a team and part of a squad, everybody has a role to play and everybody is as important as everybody else."

Those who may be offered WRU-regions deals
Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones
Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau
Blues prop Gethin Jenkins
Scarlets hooker Ken Owens
Blues utility back Gareth Anscombe
Blues wing Alex Cuthbert
Scarlets centre Scott Williams
Scarlets back-three player Liam Williams
Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar

Former Wales and Lions scrum-half Robert Jones told BBC Radio Wales Sport that he felt the same way as Thomas.

"I'm concerned about it," he said.

"Selecting a small number of individuals and allowing others to sort of sit and question their ability... I think it is dangerous ground.

"I think you either do it across the board or you don't do it at all."

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