Gatland threatens player boycott

The Wales coach said that he may not use England-based players if they are unavailable

Welsh wing  George North of Northampton has a release clause that allows him play with Wales. Photograph:   David Rogers/Getty Images

Welsh wing George North of Northampton has a release clause that allows him play with Wales. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images


Not for the first time Wales coach warren Gatland has courted confrontation. The Kiwi has warned that he might consider not selecting England-based players in future after Premiership clubs warned they might not agree to a release for the May 30th Possibles v Probables match.

Gatland has organised the game to have a final look at his players before the summer Test matches in South Africa in June.

“It makes it difficult to select them if they’re not involved,” said Gatland. “Going forward, we might have to review the policy of potentially selecting England-based players if they’re not going to be available. It’s something we’ll look closely at, particularly at the end of the season when we’re preparing for tours.”

The WRU announced the game earlier this month, causing a number of Premiership sides to fall back on IRU regulations which require players to be released only in certain periods.

“Players that have gone to France, some of them have negotiated full release and that’s helpful,” said Gatland. “But at the moment, apart from George North who has got that, it’s sometimes difficult with players coming from England.”

Although North has a release clause, Northampton were fined £60,000 by Premiership Rugby when he was allowed to play against Australia last November as the match fell outside the IRB window. North may be involved in the Premiership final the day after the trial match, which would rule him out of the Welsh game.

“We’ve been in contact with Premier Rugby to say we’re going to name the players in the squad,” added the coach. “We’re just hoping that common sense prevails and those players that are finished for the season are released.

“I can understand Premier Rugby protecting their competition, but I don’t understand when players are finished for the season why they wouldn’t be available. I hope there’s some goodwill in the game.”

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