Jake Ball: Wales and Scarlets second row signs dual contract
Wales and Scarlets lock Jake Ball has become the latest player to sign a national dual contract (NDC) with his region and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
Ball has won eight caps for Wales since making his debut against Ireland during the 2014 Six Nations.
The 23-year-old joins Wales captain Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Tyler Morgan, Hallam Amos and Rhodri Jones on joint deals.
"The NDC was a big factor in my decision," Ball said.
"I get to work hand in hand with the management at the Welsh Rugby Union as well as the Scarlets.
"Player welfare is extremely important and being looked after by both parties is great for me.
"It's been a fantastic year for me, I'm still taking everything step by step and want to perform as well as I can for the Scarlets to put my hand up for selection for the Six Nations."
The creation of dual contracts was part of a £60m deal between the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and regions over funding and governance of the game in Wales.
The WRU holds the primacy of the contracts with players being released for an agreed number of games for their region.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland, a key figure in the national dual contract process, revealed in November that 12 players had been offered such deals.
"The signing of Jake on a national dual contract is another important step for the future of the game in Wales," Gatland said.
"A player of Jake's calibre and age attracted serious interest from outside of Wales, but the introduction of NDCs means another Wales international has committed his future to Wales and his region."
Cardiff Blues flanker and national team captain Warburton signed a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union in January 2014.
Wales flanker Lydiate joined Ospreys on a national dual contract between the WRU and the region after reaching an agreement to leave Racing Metro after just 17 months in France.
Newport Gwent Dragons backs Tyler Morgan and Hallam Amos and Scarlets prop Rhodri Jones signed dual contracts in December 2014.