CHRIS KIRWAN: No incentive go for current Wales crop ahead of old brigade
10:00am Thursday 12th June 2014 in Sport
LAST week I wrote that the Dragons need to have some World Cup bolters if they are to avoid Taulupe Faletau being their only representative in the Wales squad, yet it's clear that the region don't want too much international disruption this season.
New recruits Lee Byrne, Aled Brew, Ian Gough, Andy Powell – all players with Test experience but who are highly unlikely to see Warren Gatland's name come up on the screen of their phone.
The same goes for last summer's signings Rhys Thomas and Richie Rees while Boris Stankovich, Ligtoring Landman, Dave Young, Rhys Buckley and Lloyd Fairbrother will also be at the Dragons' Ystrad Mynach training base throughout 2014/15.
The thinking is two-fold, the region has a good crop of youngsters that they feel will profit from the advice of seasoned campaigners but they also don't have a budget that can stretch to having a bumper squad.
The Ospreys, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues are thinking the same way; recruitment has been concentrated on those that will be with them week in, week out.
The message to the Welsh Rugby Union is that they feel the compensation for providing international players is not sufficient and it will have been a major sticking point in Regional Rugby Wales' negotiations with the governing body about a fresh participation agreement.
Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies is on record as saying he agrees with the WRU putting so much importance on the Test game, as it is the pinnacle of the game for players and brings in valuable cash.
But the 8, 12 and 15 jerseys need to be filled when Taulupe Faletau, Jack Dixon and Hallam Amos are away on international duty and the problem of doing that while remaining competitive is even tougher for the three regions that have bigger Wales contingents.
It has led to a situation where signing Gough is more attractive than Luke Charteris while it is wiser to bring Byrne and Brew home from Wales instead of James Hook.
Hopefully a fresh accord between RRW and the WRU will give the Welsh quartet more incentive to have stars in Warren Gatland's squad because, while international rugby has reached saturation point, there is room for economic growth in the club game and the regions need to thrive.
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