Shane Williams rues player drain to foreign clubs

Shane Williams
Shane Williams scored his 58th and final Wales try against Australia

Shane Williams has admitted Welsh rugby could prevent the big-name player drain to France if the country's top stars were offered more lucrative salaries.

Wales' record try-scorer remained with Ospreys despite offers abroad but some team-mates have gone to the French Top 14 league on big-money deals.

Wales internationals Luke Charteris, Gethin Jenkins and Jamie Roberts have been linked with moves to France.

"You don't want to see your boys going to other countries," said Williams.

And asked if players would stay if Welsh rugby could compete financially with big-spending foreign clubs, Williams replied: "Of course."

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies has called for urgent "debate" between Wales' four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union to discuss the central contract issueexternal-link in an attempt to keep top talent in Wales.

Davies's Wales internationals George North, Rhys Priestland and Jonathan Davies impressed at the World Cup and Davies admits "vultures are circling" around his stars to possibly join Perpignan fly-half James Hook, Bayonne scrum-half Mike Phillips, and Clermont Auvergne full-back Lee Byrne in leaving Wales.

Ospreys wing Williams bowed out of Test rugby in Wales' 24-18 defeat to Australia on Saturday but the country's foreign-based players were unavailable as the game was outside the IRB international window.

"Having spoken to the guys from the weekend they were gutted they could not be involved in the game on Saturday," said Williams.

"I'm sure if finance was the same in any country around the world we'd have our home boys staying here.

"And that's exactly what we would want as a supporter and as part of the WRU.

"You can't blame these other guys going abroad.

"Because you have got to look after yourself, you have got to look after your family. It is a job as well and it does not matter how passionate you are.

"The likes of Mike [Phillips] and these boys are the most passionate rugby players you can see. But if they need to go elsewhere sometimes they have to do it.

"Of course I'd much prefer these guys playing in Wales and being available to play for Wales as and when they are required.

"So it is difficult. We don't want to see these guys go but unfortunately these are the times we are in at the moment and you can't blame them."

Williams claims Welsh players have not been directly consulted about the financial issues in the national game.

"We try not to get involved in the tug-of-war and the politics side of rugby. Our main concern as players is to go out there and be successful and play well," he said.

"As far as the players are concerned they are kept away from [issues like] central contracts and everything."

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