Baker and Thornton: Ospreys pair sign dual contracts

Rory Thornton with James King in support
Rory Thornton with James King in support for Ospreys

Ospreys number eight Dan Baker and uncapped lock Rory Thornton have become the latest Welsh players to sign national dual contracts (NDC).

Baker, 23, and Thornton, 20, trained with Wales ahead of the 2015 World Cup, but were omitted from the squad.

Both have signed three-year deals, taking the total of players on NDCs to 16, with Ospreys contributing half.

Their salaries funded 60% by the Welsh Rugby Union and 40% by the regions.

Baker has been capped three times and Thornton led Wales Under-20 in the 2015 Six Nations.

The duo's deals were announced a day after Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin and back-five player James King signed dual contracts.

Baldwin, 27, was his country's first-choice hooker at the recent World Cup and has signed until 2019.

Wales' leading exiles
George North wing (Northampton)
Leigh Halfpenny, full-back (Toulon)
Jonathan Davies, centre (Clermont Auvergne)
Luke Charteris, lock (Racing 92)
Mike Phillips, scrum-half (Racing 92)
James Hook, fly-half (Gloucester)
Richard Hibbard, hooker (Gloucester)
Ross Moriarty, back-row (Gloucester)
Tomas Francis, prop (Exeter)
Dominic Day, lock (Bath)
Matthew Morgan, fly-half (Bristol)
Bradley Davies, lock (Wasps)
Jamie Roberts, centre (Cambridge University/Harlequins)
Rhys Priestland, fly-half (Bath)
Adam Jones, prop (Harlequins)
Ian Evans, lock (Bristol)

Lock or back-rower King, 25, has secured a deal until 2018.

The deals, which give the Welsh Rugby Union more control over players, were introduced to help stem the exodus of stars such as Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny from Wales.

Newport Gwent Dragons number eight Taulupe Faletau turned down a dual contract in May 2015 and Bath's recent bid to sign him was vetoed by Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Baker, Thornton, Baldwin and King have signed against a backdrop in which fly-half Rhys Priestland has taken an 18-month Test rugby sabbatical to concentrate on playing for Bath after leaving Scarlets.

Wales' dual-contracted players
Cardiff Blues: Sam Warburton, flanker & Wales captain, Gareth Anscombe, utility back.
Ospreys: Alun Wyn Jones, lock; Dan Biggar, fly-half; Dan Lydiate, flanker; Rhys Webb, scrum-half; Scott Baldwin, hooker; James King, back-five; Rory Thornton, lock; Dan Baker, number eight.
Scarlets: Jake Ball, lock; Scott Williams, centre; Samson Lee, prop; Rhodri Jones, prop.
Newport Gwent Dragons: Tyler Morgan, centre; Hallam Amos, wing/full-back.

Gatland said: "Dan and Rory are players of significant potential.

"We look forward to continuing to work with them at national squad headquarters, but also to watching them continue to flourish for the Ospreys."

Fly-half Biggar is expected to sign a contract extension, but lock Jones is considering his future beyond the end of the 2015-16 season.

Wales captain Sam Warburton was the first of the nation's current generation to commit to a dual deal.