CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Development talk a real hindrance to recruitment
9:20am Thursday 3rd January 2013 in Sport
THE TIMING could hardly have been worse; talk of development regions and cutting funding just as the recruitment period reaches a frenzy.
Too frequently Newport Gwent Dragons have done their business too close to the summer when their rivals have long since snared their targets.
That appears to be different this time round – they know who they want and appear to be in a position to start talking.
The budget has been set, it’s still shy of the £3.5million salary cap but it’s increased slightly from this season and gives something to work with.
And then a spanner is thrown in the works. By now the Dragons coaching staff should have their spiel about their on-field plans for the future well rehearsed for when they sit down at the discussion table.
But now agents might raise the prickly subject of the possibility of one or two regions being downgraded.
It shouldn’t affect overseas players – like it or not, money talks for them – but it may hinder attempts to lure those who harbour hopes of pressing for international honours.
The uncertainty surrounding Welsh rugby and the regions’ financial struggles could lead to players upping their demands to head over here and for those already in place to ask for a little bit more.
And on the recruitment front, hopefully those in Wales are working hard to increase the player pool. Scotland have shown that the carrot of playing Test rugby can be valuable. Welsh-qualified players like Worcester’s Joe Carlisle and London Irish’s Steve Shingler should be on the radar of the regions.