CHRIS KIRWAN: Wales must take absences on the chin if they keep ignoring the Test window
10:07am Thursday 15th May 2014 in Sport
THE HORSE hasn't just bolted when it comes to warning Wales players about the pitfalls of playing for English clubs, it's long been turned into glue.
Warren Gatland is faced by the prospect of being without six players – Bath's Paul James and Gavin Henson, Northampton's George North, Leicester's Owen Williams, Saracens' Rhys Gill and Bristol's Ryan Jones – for his pre-South Africa trial game.
With his probables versus possibles encounter looking likely to descend into farce, the New Zealander is finally threatening to close the stable door.
"If they are not involved it makes it difficult for us to select them. And, going forward, we might potentially have to review the policy of picking English-based players if they are not available to us," he warned.
"It's something we are going to have to look closely at, particularly at the end of the season when they are preparing for tours. We would like players to stay in Wales.
"Only picking players playing in Wales is a policy we could look to implement but we can't at the moment with the number of players that have left."
Wales could have given the regions a boost years ago if they had followed England by properly enforcing a rule that to play for your country you must play in it.
Stuart Lancaster has been harmed by not having Toulon's Steffon Armitage in his squad but the all-action flanker's absence is a useful deterrent to those tempted by Top 14 contracts.
It will always be hard to match the big bids made by the French clubs but a combination of a funding model that benefits those providing Wales players PLUS a proper enforcement of selecting from within your own borders would provide a competitive offer and food for thought.
Of course, Gatland and his WRU bosses could just accept that if they arrange games outside of IRB Test windows then they will not be able to select all of their players without paying for the privilege.
Rather than pleading for goodwill they must take it on the chin.
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