Sport The Welsh rugby transfers and deals still to be done in the coming weeks

00:45  30 november  2021
00:45  30 november  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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It’s approaching the season of peace and goodwill to all men, though the memo appeared to have missed Byron McGuigan, the Sale player who roughed up Nick Tompkins in the game with Saracens at the StoneX Stadium on Sunday.

It’s also the time of year, of course, when much transfer business is thrashed out.

A lot of contracts in Welsh rugby appear set to run out in 2023, as opposed to the coming year, but there are still rumours and whispers about certain individuals whose arrangements are expiring or otherwise.

MARK ORDERS takes a look.

Rhys Davies

There were suggestions in the summer that Davies was being tracked by a number of English clubs as he heads for the end of his contract with the Ospreys.

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The Rugby Paper named former English and European champions Exeter Chiefs as among the clubs tracking the former Wales U20s player, who was called into Wayne Pivac's Wales squad in the summer and recently featured in Pivac’s panel for the autumn Tests.

Wasps, Gloucester and Worcester were said to be other Premiership teams eyeing Davies.

But when Ospreys head coach Toby Booth spoke on the matter at a press conference recently he didn’t wear the look of a man who was about to lose one of his prized assets.

“He’s loving it here,” said Booth.

"His career’s moving forward and he’s part of a core of young individuals we are building a team for the future around and one for the present as well.

"This is his home region, too, which is massive for him."

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He's on Pivac's radar, too.

It's hard to see him heading anywhere.

Alun Wyn Jones

Welsh rugby’s great warrior seems to take matters season by season these days.

He’s on a single-year deal with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys.

Has anything changed since his contract arrangement was announced last April?

Well, Jones has ticked off his ambition of leading a Lions tour and he has also suffered two shoulder injuries, the latest of which has required a couple of operations and seems set to rule him out for the Six Nations.

So the answer to that question is ‘yes’.

The 36-year-old has nothing left to prove as a player and he also has a young family.

There are plenty of reasons to pause for thought, then.

On the other side of the ledger, there are reasons to feel he will try to push onto the 2023 global bash in France.

“The intention is always to see if Al can get to the World Cup," Wayne Pivac said after confirming Jones would not play in the 2022 Six Nations.

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“I think it's a realistic goal, personally.

“You've just got to see him in training and when he is playing, the effort he puts in. I don't see anything going anywhere near backwards in terms of his performances.

“A bit of time off, we spoke about this before Al left camp. It's not ideal for him. We are all looking forward to him playing 150 Test matches for Wales.”

Just maybe there’ll be another deal, then, taking Jones up to and including the World Cup.

Liam Williams

Liam Williams of Wales © Getty Images Liam Williams of Wales

Cardiff are believed to be in talks to sign the 30-year-old Scarlets and Wales full-back for next season.

In many ways such a move would stack up.

Williams has a house in the Cardiff area.

Hallam Amos is winding up his own playing career to focus on his medical studies, leaving a vacancy in the Arms Park squad.

And the Scarlets have two other international No. 15s in Leigh Halfpenny and Johnny McNicholl, with many at the region feeling young Tom Rogers could develop into a quality full-back in future seasons.

They also have on their books Ioan Nicholas, a player Dwayne Peel was delighted with in the opening batch of United Rugby Championship matches.

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There are also other areas of their squad that need strengthening, most notably second row.

Ultimately, the call will be made by Williams.

But it would be no surprise to see him lining up at the Arms Park next season.

Jonah Holmes

There are whispers suggesting that the Dragons’ Wales international wing could become a transfer target.

He signed what was reported as a three-year deal in 2020. It isn’t known if there is a release option before 2023.

There are suggestions put to this writer from outside the Dragons that he could opt for a move away.

What to think?

Firstly, there’s the issue of whether the talk is on the money.

Secondly, there’s the matter of whether Holmes would want away.

And, thirdly, the Dragons would have to consent to such a deal if there are no early-release arrangements in his contract.

But the talk is out there.

A move out of Wales would end his World Cup hopes under the 60-cap rule, so if he’s going anywhere it would probably be to one of the other regions.

Let’s see how it pans out.

Bradley Roberts

He’s another one who’s on a short-term arrangement, in his case with Ulster until the end of the season.

Unless his contract has a rollover dimension to it, and there are no obvious indications that it does, he will have to become part of the regional scene to continue his Wales career.

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Wayne Pivac is said to be very keen for one of the Welsh professional sides to sign him up, otherwise Roberts will fall foul of the 60-cap rule when his deal in Belfast expires.

Where could he go?

It’s unlikely to be to the Ospreys, who already have four quality hookers in Elvis Taione, Sam Parry, Ifan Phillips and Dewi Lake, a player Pivac says is on Wales’ radar “big time”.

There appears no room at the Scarlets, where Ken Owens and Ryan Elias head up a pool of No. 2s that also contains the physical Marc Jones and youngsters Dafydd Hughes and Dom Booth.

A Test hooker in Elliot Dee is in situ at the Dragons, who also have Ellis Shipp and Richard Hibbard in their squad, along with Taylor Davies, on loan from the Scarlets.

Cardiff have new Wales cap Kirby Myhill along with Liam Belcher, Kristian Dacey and Iestyn Harris.

Potentially, the Dragons or Cardiff could be able to accommodate Roberts next term, but the assumption is that any would-be suitor would first want to be convinced he’s better than their existing No. 2s.

But with his physicality and solid defence — he’s a chunky carrier who prides himself on his tackling as well — the signs are that Roberts could be an asset if someone does come in for him.

Alex Cuthbert

He signed a one-year contract with the Ospreys in the summer.

The assumption is from the region’s perspective the deal was short term to see if Cuthbert could provide value after an injury-plagued spell with Exeter Chiefs.

He’s only started two games for the Ospreys, with a hamstring problem he suffered at Exeter delaying his debut.

But he’s played well enough in both those matches to reclaim a Wales squad place and he marked his return to the Test arena with a superbly taken try against Fiji.

He’s also popular off the field and seen as a team player.

“To see a good guy like him — and he is a good guy, he’s really contributed on and off the pitch since he’s come back here — getting back to scoring a try for his country in front of his family is a really good story,” said Ospreys head coach Toby Booth recently.

“We’re delighted for him.”

He needs to bang in a few more appearances, but at this stage it would be a surprise if Cuthbert’s current deal didn't turn into something longer.

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