Taulupe Faletau: Wales forward could leave Dragons for Bath

By Ross HarriesBBC Scrum V
Taulupe Faletau
Taulupe Faletau made his Wales debut against Barbarians in June 2011

Wales and British and Irish Lions number eight Taulupe Faletau could be on the verge of signing for Bath, BBC Wales Sport has learned.

The 24-year-old may be bought out of the remaining year of his Newport Gwent Dragons contract.

It is possible the 45-times capped Faletau will join English Premiership runners-up Bath after the World Cup.

He had his offer of a national dual contract withdrawn by the Welsh Rugby Union in May.

Faletau said at the time that changing his agent had "delayed" signing a dual contract, which would be co-funded by the WRU and the region.

National dual contracts were introduced to try to stem the flow of Welsh internationals leaving the regional game, but Faletau is understood to have discussed the situation with Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

Withdrawing the offer of a national dual contract - of which 60% is paid by the WRU and 40% by the region - left the Dragons with the prospect of paying Faletau's salary in full.

Analysis: Ross Harries, BBC Scrum V presenter
"The Dragons face an agonising dilemma. Faletau is without doubt their star player and to have held on to him would have been a strong statement to their fans. But the Dragons is a business as much as it is a rugby club, and balancing the books is as a big a priority as building a squad. Faletau is the highest paid player and has a year left to run on his contract which means, if the Dragons were to release him now, they'd cash in on a transfer fee believed to be around a third of his annual salary. If they keep hold of him until next year, and he then decides to leave, they'll get nothing."

Bath are believed to be keen to negotiate a transfer fee with the Dragons in order to secure Faletau's signature a year before his existing contract is due to end.

If the deal is completed, Faletau will join up with fellow Welshmen Rhys Priestland and Dominic Day at the Recreation Ground.

The English Premiership side had been hoping to sign Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen, but his decision to join Toulon led to renewed interest in Faletau.

Bath and the Dragons have been contacted by BBC Wales Sport but both declined to comment.

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