Wales to abandon 60-cap rule?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wales boss Wayne Pivac could be forced to abandon the union’s 60-cap selection rules due to the ongoing injury crisis at flyhalf.
Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Anscombe and Owen Williams are all currently sans action with various injuries, leaving the Welsh flyhalf larder extremely bare.
The only fit number 10 currently in the squad is Cardiff Blues playmaker Jarrod Evans. Evans, 23-year-old, currently has just five caps to his name.
Under the Senior Player Selection Policy (SPSP) Wayne Pivac can only select Wales squad players exclusively from the pool of home talent available – with an exception made for any player who has been capped 60-times or more.
In 2017 as the new 60-cap clause came in, the former ‘Wildcard’ system was removed in its entirety, meaning no player with fewer caps will be selected for Wales if they ply their trade outside of the country.
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However, according to The Rugby Paper, Pivac may have to bust the system to select Bath flyhalf Rhys Priestland.
Capped 50 times by Wales, Priestland joined Bath ahead of the 2015/16 season from Scarlets, turning his back on the opportunity to play in the red jersey. Out of favour, Priestland bet on a lucrative contract with Bath over his chances of being called back into Gatland’s setup.
With Biggar is currently recovering from his most recent concussion and Evans still very inexperienced, the under-pressure new Welsh boss Pivac may feel he has no choice but to bring Priestland in. Biggar suffered head injuries in successive World Cup games against Australia and Fiji in Japan last autumn but recovered to play in the quarter-final victory over France.
“Dan is alright, he’s just doing the normal return to play protocols,” said Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said last week. “That takes a bit of time but he is pretty good and is recovering pretty well, so hopefully he will be OK for next week.”
“The World Cup was a concern in terms of the heavy ones that he had, but I don’t think Saturday was as bad as those. But (an HIA) is still something that you’ve got to do and the right decision was made.
“He is a tough old player, as you could see on Saturday because trying to get him off was an issue. But hopefully, he will do everything he needs to do and will be back ready for France.”
Wales will have to sweat on Biggar’s fitness for a few days more, but they may have to break their own rules, temporarily at least.
Source: Rugbypass & The Rugbypaper