Rhys Webb: Ospreys scrum-half says Wales' selection rule change 'a blow'

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One player who will be hit by the rule change is British & Irish Lions star Webb, who will join French side Toulon next season.

Warren Gatland has said Rob Howley will not be taking over from him as Wales head coach in 2019.

Under the changes, those playing their domestic rugby outside Wales will now be available for the national team providing they have won 60 caps or more.

North, Roberts and Faletau have more than 60 caps, while Williams had already started playing for Saracens before the policy changed. Both Moriarty and Francis have been linked with moves to Wales with the allure of a National Dual Contract [NDC] seeing partially-funded deals from the WRU helping the four regions retain the leading global players.

Rhys Webb has spoken of his surprise and disappointment that he will be ineligible to play for Wales next season under a new rule brought in by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

It will incentivise Welsh talent, both existing and potential, to play their professional rugby in Wales.

"After that, they can make a decision - stay in Wales or some of them, as they come to the end of their career, maybe look at opportunities to play and experience a lifestyle change, and also maybe a significant financial reward for their services to Welsh rugby".

"But it's not about what's best for me and the national team, it's about what's best for Welsh rugby".

"But we know we're under pressure from market forces".

"Our role is to ensure that any selection policy is "fit for purpose", achieves our collective aims and works for the greater good of the whole of Welsh rugby".

"The revamped policy will be reviewed periodically but, fundamentally, if you have less than 60 caps and you leave Wales then you won't be selected by your country again until you return".

Phillips said: "Whatever contract that a player is in today, that contract is protected".

WalesOnline says the law states that "only players who play in Wales will be eligible for selection to the national squad".

"But going back to the policy, we think this is a policy that is easier for people to understand and yes we know there is always going to be a bit of pain when you put things in place, there's going to be a bit of ambiguity, one or two players that might get caught up in the crossfire so to speak but we've potentially got to work through that, take a hit on that and hopefully that fits objective in terms of what we're trying to do". We have to recognize that.

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