Welsh Rugby Union could lure back exiled stars - Lewis

Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts
Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts were 2013 British and Irish Lions in Australia

Outgoing Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis says it now has the financial power to persuade some of the nation's biggest stars to return to domestic Welsh teams.

George North, Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies and Luke Charteris are among Wales' exiles.

Since a £60m deal with the nation's regions was made in August, 12 players have signed national dual contracts.

"We are in a position to contract more players," said Lewis.

Lewis, who was appointed in September, 2006 believes the WRU is in a strong financial position as he leaves to take over the running of Cardiff Wales Airport.

Lewis acknowledges that the WRU board and his successor Martyn Phillips must make their own decisions over where their priorities lie.

Roger Lewis
Roger Lewis with Wales captain Sam Warburton, the first player in the modern era to sign a national dual contract in Wales

He also says the playing environment to which players could return must also be "right".

Lewis added: "It will be a strategic call in terms of who do you sign going forward.

"Some of the players that have featured in the wider squad leading up to this World Cup, we need to be thinking how we make sure they stay in Wales until the next World Cup in 2019 and they continue to play for their regions in Wales.

"But also how can we attract some of the players who have left Wales for a variety of reasons to come back."

Wing North plays for Northampton and centre Jamie Roberts has moved from Racing 92 to Harlequins.

Lock Charteris is at Racing 92, full-back Halfpenny is at Toulon and centre Jonathan Davies plays for Clermont Auvergne, although the latter pair are recovering from long-term injuries.

Wales' 2015 World Cup squad also included Bath lock Dominic Day and Bristol fly-half Matthew Morgan.

Gloucester's James Hook was called into the squad as injuries took their toll on the camp, while his experienced team-mate, hooker Richard Hibbard was overlooked.

Wales' dual-contracted players
Sam Warburton, flanker & Wales captain (Cardiff Blues)
Gareth Anscombe, utility back (Blues)
Alun Wyn Jones, lock (Ospreys)
Dan Biggar, fly-half (Ospreys)
Dan Lydiate, flanker (Ospreys)
Rhys Webb, scrum-half (Ospreys)
Jake Ball, lock (Scarlets)
Scott Williams, centre (Scarlets)
Samson Lee, prop (Scarlets)
Rhodri Jones, prop (Scarlets)
Tyler Morgan, centre (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Hallam Amos, wing/full-back (Dragons)

But unlike their World Cup colleagues, Exeter Chiefs' tight-head prop Tomas Francis, and Gloucester back-rower Ross Moriarty have never played top-flight rugby for a leading Welsh team.

The bulk of Wales' tournament picks were based within Wales at Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Scarlets.

There are 12 dual-contracted players in Wales whose salaries are split 60-40% between the WRU and a region with the governing body having greater control.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau turned down a dual contract offer in May, 2015 and a proposed transfer from Dragons to Bath has been blocked by Wales coach Warren Gatland.

And fly-half Rhys Priestland is taking an 18-month sabbatical from Test rugby after switching from Scarlets to Bath.

Edwards exit not a Wales worry

Lewis, who leaves his role on Saturday, 31 October, also urged Wales fans not to fear the possibility of defence coach Shaun Edwards departing as his contract expires on the same day.

"Warren Gatland is a consummate defensive technician and tactician so Wales should not worry," said Lewis.

"Also we should not worry about Shaun because he's a magical guy and he'll be sorted.

"The bottom line is I'd back Warren Gatland any day of the week and if Warren feels it's right now for a change, I'll back Warren 100%."

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