Wales and Scarlets prop Samson Lee signs national dual contract
Wales and Scarlets prop Samson Lee has become the latest player to sign a national dual contract (NDC) with his region and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
The tight-head, 22, won the first of his nine Wales caps coming on as a replacement against Argentina in 2013.
The Swansea-born forward played in all of Wales' 2014 autumn internationals including the historic 12-6 win against South Africa.
"This was an easy decision for me," Lee said.
"A national dual contract is the best of both worlds. It allows me to commit to the Scarlets, where I'm enjoying my rugby and where I feel at home, but it also hopefully allows for exciting times ahead with Wales.
"I hope I can continue to repay the faith placed in me by both the Scarlets and the WRU coaches on the pitch and am delighted that I will be attempting to do so at Parc y Scarlets for the foreseeable future."
Lee is currently out with a neck injury and a suspected disc problem.
Scarlets say he faces further tests on his neck and hope he will be available for the European Champions Cup clash against Leicester on 16 January, providing no serious injury is found.
Lee has established himself as Wales' first-choice tight-head since replacing Adam Jones in the first half of the first Test match against South Africa in Durban in June, 2014.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said: "Samson has developed rapidly and proven his ability in a position where we continue to build strength in depth."
He added: "His performances for the Scarlets and Wales have shown how he is a quick learner who understands the requirements of the role and the demands on a modern tight-head."
Lee joins Wales captain Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Jake Ball, Tyler Morgan, Hallam Amos and Rhodri Jones on dual deals.
The creation of dual contracts was part of a £60m deal between the 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.
Under the Rugby Services Agreement, the WRU pays 60% of the deal and the signing Welsh region the remainder.
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis, who was talking to BBC's Scrum V programme, described Lee's move as "important" for the future of Welsh rugby.
Lewis continued: "The strategy is retaining those great players who have already proved themselves at the top of the game, but also ensuring that the young players coming forward for Welsh rugby are also secured beyond this Rugby World Cup year and heading towards the next Rugby World Cup in 2019."