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Gareth Anscombe warns Wales he could leave for England or France if pay offer does not improve

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 19/03/2019 Alex Bywater

Gareth Anscombe has warned Wales he is considering a big-money move to England as Warren Gatland’s players continue to battle political chaos off the field. © getty Gareth Anscombe has warned Wales he is considering a big-money move to England as Warren Gatland’s players continue to battle political chaos off the field. Gareth Anscombe has warned Wales he is considering a big-money move to England as Warren Gatland’s players continue to battle political chaos off the field. 

Anscombe kicked 20 points in a coming-of-age display as Wales blew Ireland away to clinch a first Grand Slam since 2012 and a third under Gatland. 

Their latest success has been all the more remarkable given it has come against a backdrop of boardroom chaos with the Welsh Rugby Union and the country’s four regions still locked in discussions over ‘Project Reset’ – the system by which Welsh rugby will be run in the future. 

Those talks led to the abandonment of a proposed merger between the Ospreys and Scarlets while Gatland’s leading lights have also had to deal with growing uncertainty over their futures. 

Anscombe kicked 20 points in a coming-of-age display as Wales blew Ireland away to clinch a first Grand Slam since 2012 and a third under Gatland. © getty Anscombe kicked 20 points in a coming-of-age display as Wales blew Ireland away to clinch a first Grand Slam since 2012 and a third under Gatland. Anscombe and Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones are both out of contract at the end of the season and the former believes the WRU needs to show its commitment to Wales’ star men given the team’s remarkable 12 months in which they have gone 14 matches unbeaten. 

Anscombe - who admits he might “never be the darling boy of Welsh rugby” despite his outstanding man-of-the-match performance against Ireland - said: “It’s been tough with what is going on in Welsh rugby. It’s not what you want to be dealing with as a player, but with the Six Nations I’ve just been trying to focus on playing well for Wales. I’ve got a decision to make shortly and hopefully we’ll have some news soon. We all want to play for Wales there is no doubt about that, but players need to be treated well. We are doing a hell of a lot for the team and the country so we should be looked after. That needs to get sorted and I think the players have been let down a fair bit, certainly when you think about the results we’ve provided.”

Warren Gatland’s players continue to battle political chaos off the field. © getty Warren Gatland’s players continue to battle political chaos off the field. The WRU has introduced a new banding system in which the players will be streamed and then paid accordingly. It is understood the move is unpopular with many players as they feel it limits their earning potential. Anscombe, in particular, is unhappy with the banding he has been placed in. His £350,000-a-year salary with Cardiff Blues and Wales pales into insignificance compared to the money available in England and France. Both Bath and Harlequins have expressed an interest in the 27-year-old playmaker while the Ospreys are also keen on Anscombe as he has a close relationship with their backs coach, Matt Sherratt.

On Tuesday night Anscombe’s international team-mates Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens and Rob Evans all signed new deals at the Scarlets while it was confirmed that Josh Adams will join the Blues from Worcester for the start of next season. 

“It is great to be returning to Wales and I cannot wait to link up with Cardiff Blues next season,” Adams said. “I will always be grateful to Worcester for giving me the opportunity to become a professional player and I have loved my time at Sixways, but to play for Wales I need to play in Wales and Cardiff Blues is the best fit for me. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter.” 

If Anscombe did move to England or France he would be unavailable for Wales given he falls below the 60 caps required to play his club rugby abroad and represent Wales. © GETTY If Anscombe did move to England or France he would be unavailable for Wales given he falls below the 60 caps required to play his club rugby abroad and represent Wales. While some his team-mates have sorted their futures, Anscombe’s remains unclear.

Asked if he had thought about moving to England amid the uncertainty in Wales, he added: “I think it has made all the boys think about that to be honest. We’ve only got a 10-year window to look after ourselves and I guess the important thing is you don’t want to look back with any regrets. At times when they [WRU] try to pigeonhole you into something it’s a little bit frustrating. 

“We’re a world-class team and we deserve to be where we are. We’re not far off beating anyone and we’re No2 in the world now so hopefully that gets reciprocated both ways. I think we’ve given the union something to be pretty proud of. Hopefully we can put this mess behind us and the regions can come together and sort out the best deals for the players because that’s important.” 

The Blues are understandably keen to retain Anscombe, but they have a real fight on their hands to do so especially given his fine form for Wales since November. 

“It is what it is. I won’t be able to change everyone. I will keep my head down and let my rugby do the talking for me,” said Anscombe. © getty “It is what it is. I won’t be able to change everyone. I will keep my head down and let my rugby do the talking for me,” said Anscombe. If Anscombe did move to England or France he would be unavailable for Wales given he falls below the 60 caps required to play his club rugby abroad and represent Wales. 

New Zealand-born Anscombe qualifies for Wales through his mother, but he has struggled to convince Welsh supporters of his worth and some fans have targeted him on social media despite his undoubted quality and fine performance last Saturday.. 

“I have had a love-hate relationship with the supporters for some reason," he said. "I will probably never be the darling boy of Welsh rugby and that’s fine by me, but hopefully they can see I do my best and that might turn a few people around. I have seen other guys get it. I am not the first and won’t be the last. The boys know how fickle Welsh rugby is. We have all been through it. I have a couple of good mates who have gone through it and left. This is the life we live now.

“I am sure I am going to have days where people will criticise again – that is just the way it is. On Twitter people have opinions that are usually negative. That’s why they want to voice them. 

The Blues are understandably keen to retain Anscombe, but they have a real fight on their hands to do so especially given his fine form for Wales since November. © getty The Blues are understandably keen to retain Anscombe, but they have a real fight on their hands to do so especially given his fine form for Wales since November. “It is what it is. I won’t be able to change everyone. I will keep my head down and let my rugby do the talking for me.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged Shaun Edwards blew his chance of continuing as Wales defence coach after handing an ultimatum to Gatland’s anointed successor as head coach, Wayne Pivac. 

Edwards played a key role in Wales’ Six Nations Grand Slam glory, but has distanced himself from a return to rugby league despite Wigan confirming he would join them for next season last August. 

The league legend was on Pivac’s shortlist to carry on with Wales after the World Cup in Japan which will be Gatland’s last campaign in charge.

“Shaun has done a fantastic job – we all know that. He’s a very, very good defence coach and was the first person I spoke with,” Pivac said. “He indicated early on he was under pressure from Wigan and that the timelines imposed on us were unrealistic. That was pre-autumn and pre-Six Nations. Shaun signed with Wigan and that put paid to the discussions going any further.”

It is understood Pivac’s current defence coach at the Scarlets, Byron Hayward, is close to being appointed as Edwards’ successor with Wales.

Former Wales hooker Scott Baldwin - famously bitten by a lion when in South Africa with the Ospreys - will move to Harlequins for the start of next season.

Six Nations: Who made the team of the tournament? (ReadSport)


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