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Sport Wales prop Tomas Francis reveals full details of difficult situation as all four regions put on alert

18:20  18 october  2020
18:20  18 october  2020 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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Prop Tomas Francis signs a contract extension with Exeter to raise question marks about his Wales eligibility after the 2020-21 season. York-born Francis , who qualified for Wales through his grandmother, could argue there were mitigating circumstances if he is just short of the threshold next

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New Champions Cup winner Tomas Francis has provided a definitive take on his contract situation at Exeter Chiefs, confirming if he doesn’t have 60 caps in the bank by next June he will have to switch to one of the regions or give up playing for Wales.

The tight-head became the 13th Welshman to secure a European Cup winner’s medal when his club triumphed 31-27 in a classic final against Racing 92 at Ashton Gate.

Francis will now hope to be part of a double-winning team, with Exeter contesting the Gallagher Premiership final next weekend.

But he also has a massive career decision to ponder in the coming months.

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And the expectation is that potentially every region will be interested in the call 48-cap player makes.

In a podcast with BBC's Scrum V, he said: "My original contract runs out in June 2021, so if I don't have 60 caps by then, I need to go and play in Wales.

"The extension announced earlier this year with Exeter was to cover (the situation) if Covid got worse and to do with the salary caps, but there's an option for both parties, me and (coach) Rob Baxter to get out of that.

"If I don't have 60 caps, I'm not ready to give up playing for Wales and I won't be able to accept that extension.

"It's a decision I have to make down the line.”

There could be a potential twist if the Welsh Rugby Union decide the coronavirus pandemic has hindered Francis’ attempts to reach the 60-cap threshold that would allow him to continue to pull on the red jersey despite playing outside Wales.

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All the situations of my life, are no less than challenging. Some times, life puts me into some situations , and some times I myself make some decisions Socially, you may well be an outcast. You can be gregarious as all get-out and people will still not wind up being lifelong friends to you, because

Possibly, the union could show flexibility.

But there’s nothing definite on that score.

The 28-year-old featured among the replacements for Exeter against Racing.


Video: Dylan Jones told not to speak Welsh (Daily Post)

But his worth as a scrummager isn’t in doubt, with the big man holding his own against some of the top loose-heads in world rugby before now.

Two years ago, he helped Wales stand firm against South Africa in Cardiff, a week after Steven Kitshoff and Co had caused Scotland’s scrum — the highly rated WP Nel and all — huge difficulties.

Francis has also improved his game around the field, developing into a stout defender who made 42 tackles at the last World Cup, while he’s been known to poach the odd ball at the breakdown.

But he has long believed that even in a multi-skilled age where specialists on a rugby field are an increasingly endangered species at the top level, a tight-head’s primary job is to anchor the scrum.

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Unsurprisingly, he cites former Wales No. 3 Adam Jones as his all-time rugby hero, with Francis even asking the former Osprey to sign his book, Bomb, The Autobiography, when the pair came across each other.

“I got to meet him when he played for Harlequins,” Francis told Gareth Rhys Owen in the Scrum V podcast.

“It was quite a surreal experience.

“I had his book and I asked him to sign it for me.

“It was after the 2015 World Cup. He’d been just put out of the Welsh squad. I don’t know if he was that happy about it, but he was my hero.

“It was at Sandy Park. I just knew he was going to be there, so I had the book in my bag, just in case.

“I asked one of their managers if he was around so I could have a word with him and get it signed."

Wales’ newest European champion declined to buy the idea that he’d technically replaced

Jones

in the Wales squad back then, saying: “No one could replace Bomb.

“He just changed the game for tight-heads. It was starting to get to the point where you had to be a ball-player, and he just took it back to the idea that you need a scrum first. He proved that and was the best tight-head in the world for a few years.

“He’s a top bloke, as well, so that makes it even better.

“It’s not often you get to meet your heroes but he was definitely worth it.”

The two completely different Wales teams Wayne Pivac can pick this autumn which are each quite strong .
Wales coach Pivac can have a Team A and a Team B for the autumn campaign and there is real talent in either sideSpoiled for choice or just completely indecisive?

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