CARDIFF, United Kingdom (AFP) – Wales’ Grand Slam winner Gareth Anscombe has urged officials to end the uncertainty surrounding the regional game or risk a player exodus.
The fly-half’s 20-point haul steered Wales to victory over Ireland as Wales secured the Six Nations title with a Grand Slam.
But their campaign was overshadowed by a fierce debate over the future of the Welsh club game, with a planned merger between the Scarlets and the Ospreys – two of Wales’ four professional regional clubs – collapsing.
Cardiff No 10 Anscombe has an existing dual-national contract which expires at the end of the season.
There have been reports the 27-year-old could be a target for English Premiership side Harlequins.
But a move to the London club would effectively end the Test career of the New Zealand-born playmaker, as he is well below the 60-cap threshold that Wales require before they will select a player at a non-Welsh club.
Asked if the current turmoil had made him think about a move to England, Anscombe replied, “I think it has made all the boys think about that, to be honest.
“We’ve only got a 10-year window to really look after ourselves, and I guess the important thing is you don’t want to look back with any regrets.
“It has been tough with what is going on in Welsh rugby. It’s not ideal and not what you want to be dealing with as a player.
“Hopefully, we can put this mess behind us and focus on this (the Grand Slam), which we should all be really excited about.”
But ahead of this year’s World Cup in Japan, Anscombe insisted, “We all want to play for Wales – there is no doubt about that – but players need to be treated well, and we deserve to be.
“We are doing a lot for the team and the country, so we should be looked after. That needs to get sorted, and as players we deserve to get the best deals possible.”
Anscombe urged the Welsh Rugby Union to take swift action, saying, “There is a fair bit going on behind the scenes which needs to get sorted. I would love to keep playing for Wales, but we’ve got to work out a few things, for sure.
“We are a world-class team and we deserve to be where we are. We’re not far off beating anyone, we are number two in the world now.”