Rhys Webb: Ospreys player says Wales' selection policy change is 'a blow'

Rhys Webb
Rhys Webb made two Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions in their drawn 2017 series in New Zealand

Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb says he is surprised and disappointed that he will not be eligible to play for Wales when he joins Toulon next season.

A new rule brought in by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) means any player taking up a new contract with a team outside Wales must have won 60 caps to be able to play for their country.

British and Irish Lion Webb has played 28 times for Wales.

"It's a real blow," the 28-year-old told Wales Online.

"I am very disappointed at the news because I love playing for Wales. It means a huge amount to me.

"I didn't know the full implications when I agreed to join Toulon because the change in the selection policy came out after I signed."

Webb previously played for Wales at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level.

"I have given 10 years' service to the Ospreys and Welsh rugby and have picked up injuries along the way," he said. "I would have hoped that would have been taken into consideration.

"I still very much want to play for Wales this season and hope I can gain selection for the autumn international squad."

Players who are already playing outside Wales will be exempt from the new rule.

However, that will not extend to new contracts that have already been agreed by players for the 2017-18 season.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland suggested Webb might be able to reverse his decision to join Toulon in order to secure his international future.

For the time being, the New Zealander is worried about the prospect of being without his first-choice scrum-half.

"Unfortunately, it's something I'm not 100% comfortable with," Gatland told BBC Sport Wales.

"A policy's been agreed with the regions and the union, and Rhys has made a decision to sign a pre-agreement for Toulon for next season, which means he won't reach the criteria in terms of the number of caps to be selected for Wales.

"That's disappointing from my point of view and for Rhys.

"With the 60 caps, it's recognising players who've given a significant contribution to their regions and the national team.

"After that, they can make a decision - stay in Wales or some of them, as they come to the end of their career, maybe look at opportunities to play and experience a lifestyle change, and also maybe a significant financial reward for their services to Welsh rugby."

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