Wales rugby: Tom Shanklin confident about Welsh player return

Racing Metro team-mates Mike Phillips and Jamie Roberts
Mike Phillips and Jamie Roberts

Welsh internationals based in France and England will be tempted to return home by the lure of dual contracts, says Ex-Wales centre Tom Shanklin.

Wales captain Sam Warburton is the first star to be given a dual contract as part of the new deal between the Welsh Rugby Union and the four regions.

The regions have seen an exodus of Wales players joining clubs in England and France in the past couple of years.

"I think they all want to come back," said Shanklin, 34.

In August the WRU and the four regions - Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Newport Gwent Dragons - agreed a £60m deal, running until 2020, that means a minimum of six key home-based internationals will be on dual WRU-regions contracts.

Under the arrangement the WRU will pay 60% of a player's deal and the region the remainder.

Tom Shanklin
"It was the best thing for you to get out to France, get away from it, wait until it sorted itself out and come back." said Shanklin.

"I think the players like the idea of the comfort zone. They have gone out to France because nothing was really happening," said British and Irish Lion Shanklin, who was capped 70 times by Wales between 2001 and 2011.

"We had such a long time where no one knew who was going to pay the players, what competition we were going to be in.

"It was the best thing for you to get out to France, get away from it, wait until it sorted itself out and come back.

"If we can start agreeing with whatever teams - Toulon, Racing Metro - I think these players want to come back, want to be looked after."

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny,outside-centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Richard Hibbard became the latest Wales players to depart during the summer as the now-resolved Welsh rugby dispute continued.

Halfpenny (Toulon) and Davies (Clermont Auvergne) joined Racing Metro trio Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Luke Charteris in France, while Hibbard joined winger George North (Northampton) in England, signing for Gloucester.

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