Welsh Rugby Union reveals players affected by senior player selection policy

Warren Gatland and Robert Howley
Warren Gatland's appointment as 2017 Lions coach means Robert Howley will be in charge of Wales in 2016-17

Welsh exiles Taulupe Faletau, George North, Jamie Roberts and Rhys Priestland will have to rely on being picked as wildcards for future Wales selection.

The Welsh Rugby Union's (WRU) senior player selection policy (SPSP) means only three players who play outside Wales can be picked.

Dominic Day, Nicky Thomas and Rhodri Williams are the others affected.

Bath lock Luke Charteris is exempt from the rule and free for selection.

This is the first time the WRU has revealed its seven-man list, from which three wildcard selections are available for each Wales campaign, starting from the 2016-17 season.

The Six Nations, summer tour and autumn internationals are different campaigns, and the wildcard selections can differ for each.

Also known as 'Gatland's Law' in reference to Wales head coach Warren Gatland, the policy is aimed at ensuring more players play their domestic rugby in Wales.

In August 2014, the WRU and Wales' four professional regions signed a £60m, six-year deal that settled a long-running dispute over the sport's future.

That deal included rules that mean players based outside Wales could be overlooked in favour of home-based talent.

George North and Jamie Roberts
George North (left) plays for Northampton, while Jamie Roberts plays for Harlequins

The policy ruled no player based overseas should represent Wales, although they are able to make exceptions.

The SPSP does not affect players who signed contracts with clubs outside Wales before the policy was introduced, such as Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny and Exeter's Tomas Francis.

Robert Howley will deputise for Gatland, who will take charge of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Wales host Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa at Cardiff's Principality Stadium in November.

The squad for those Test matches will be announced on Tuesday, 18 October.

"Players have been aware that there would come a point, if they left or signed new contracts outside Wales, that the policy would impact on selection," said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

"We are aware that supporters may be concerned that we will not be selecting from a full list of players, but the alternative where players increasingly play outside Wales isn't sustainable for the long-term success of our game whether that be professional or community rugby.

"Clearly the player ultimately has the choice but we will do all we can to ensure that playing in Wales gives the player the best professional rugby experience possible.

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