Overseas players want to return to Wales - Warren Gatland

Dan Lydiate and Mike Phillips
Dan Lydiate and Mike Phillips are two of four Welshman playing for Racing Metro in France

Head coach Warren Gatland says some Wales players based abroad are considering returning home.

He said the so-called "Gatland's Law", which favours domestic players when it comes to picking the Wales squad, will encourage them to do so.

Gatland believes many of the top Welsh players will return to play for Welsh regions once their contracts are up.

"A lot of those players have already indicated that they want to come back," Gatland said.

"Hopefully we can encourage as many as we possibly can to come back to Wales."

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is set to offer between 10 and 15 players dual contracts as part of a plan to keep the top Test stars at home.

Welsh players based abroad
Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts, Mike PhillipsRacing Metro
Jon DaviesClermont
Bradley Davies, John Yapp, Thomas Young, Ed ShervingtonWasps
Phil Dollman, Tom James, Ceri SweeneyExeter
Ian Evans, Ryan Jones, Matthew Morgan, Dwayne Peel, Nicky Robinson, Gareth MauleBristol
Andrew FenbyLondon Irish
Rhys GillSaracens
Leigh HalfpennyToulon
Gavin Henson, Paul James, Dominic DayBath
James Hook, Richard Hibbard, Tom Isaacs, Aled ThomasGloucester
James Lewis, Rob Lewis, Nic Reynolds, Darren WatersLondon Welsh
Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Nick MacleodSale
George NorthNorthampton
Jonathan Thomas, Andries PretoriusWorcester
Owen WilliamsLeicester
Shane WilliamsMitsubishi Dynaboars
Gareth DelveNEC Green Rockets
Ben EvansWaverley

This was part of the six-year, £60m deal agreed between the WRU and the four regions - Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets.

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis said the 50-strong shortlist for these contracts includes those who are playing their club rugby outside of Wales.

Wales has also lost players to sides in England in recent years, including George North signing for Northampton and Paul James moving to Bath.

Part of this agreement says no player based abroad can represent Wales, although Gatland can make exceptions.

With a number of high-profile players plying their trade outside Wales, Gatland says some may be reconsidering their options.

"They've been away in France for the first year… and a lot of them are realising now maybe it's not as good as they first realised," he said.

"A lot of them realise they've had that experience [abroad] but in terms of where I am best to be looked after maybe it's back home, it's back in Wales.

"It's a long season and some of them only get two or three weeks of a pre-season.

Gatland added: "There are enough safeguards in place that we are still able to pick players.

"But the ideal thing for us is to protect rugby in Wales and, eventually, to pick as many as we can that are playing in Wales."

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