NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell has warned off clubs chasing their superstar Toby Faletau by insisting the Wales number eight is “not for sale”.
There were reports yesterday that ambitious English club Bath were leading the chase to lure him away from Rodney Parade a year early by offering to pay the region a six-figure transfer fee.
But the Dragons’ boss told the Argus he is adamant they would be holding on to Faletau – at least until he is out of contract at the end of the 2013/14 season – and would do “what we can” to keep him from leaving then.
Dragons boss Hazell confirmed they would be resisting temptation after being enticed to release the 2012 Grand Slam winner from his current deal prematurely.
He said: “Toby is not for sale and is not going anywhere.
“There are a number of clubs interested in him – two English clubs in particular – but it’s important we hold on to him and we will be doing what we can to keep Toby here (beyond the date when his current contract expires in 2014).”
Faletau has long been a target of some of Europe’s top sides and is regarded as one of the game’s finest number eights – his quality evident after he was named man of the match in the Dragons’ unlucky 12-10 defeat away to big rivals Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day.
The fact that he is set to stay will be great news for many of the Rodney Parade faithful, the Gwent region losing top international blindside flanker Dan Lydiate at the end of the current campaign.
Last year’s Six Nations player of the year is believed to be joining French glamour club Racing Métro in a highly lucrative deal.
It has been a worrying week for Dragons fans after it was revealed that the Welsh Rugby Union is considering downgrading one of the regions to a development side by cutting full funding.
If that were to happen, it would leave the Dragons as the obvious choice for the chop based on them having the poorest results of the regions in recent seasons.
But it is understood the Dragons are confident no region will be downgraded in any radical overhaul of the professional game in Wales despite an exodus of stars to France and England, poor recent international form and poor performances by the quartet in Europe.
And the Dragons’ director of rugby Rob Beale has revealed they will be pursuing a more ambitious recruitment policy and would be increasing their playing budget for next season.
He has made it known they are in the market to sign a top class international tighthead prop in the coming months and are also looking to bring in quality half backs and centres as well.