Thursday 22 February 2018

Williams will face Gatland's Law' over Sarries move

Wales's Liam Williams Picture: PA
Wales's Liam Williams Picture: PA

James Corrigan

As if the Welsh management did not have enough to think about before the Springboks Test on Saturday that will define their autumn, it has come to light that Liam Williams is to join Saracens next season and will therefore require a wild card to play for his country.

The Welsh Rugby Union had hoped the offer of a National Dual Contract would keep him at the Parc y Scarlets, but the lure of the European champions, as well as living in London where his girlfriend, the model Sophie Harries, is based, has proved too great.

Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, has made no secret of his admiration for the 25 year-old who, in his 35 caps, has emerged as one of the game's finest attacking full-backs. Neither Saracens nor Scarlets would confirm the news, but it is common knowledge within the Welsh squad that a two-year deal has been done, although an announcement is not anticipated until January.

It means that Williams will be subject to the so-called "Gatland's Law", the WRU regulation which limits the number of players based outside the country who can be selected for Tests if they have turned down a contract offer in Wales.

At the moment that stands at three, but for the next two seasons will rise to four. But with Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Taulupe Faletau and Jamie Roberts all requiring wild cards as it stands - as well as others such as Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland - there could be trouble ahead. All eyes will now fall on Halfpenny to see if he remains at Toulon when his contracts ends in May.

"We've said we want to keep our best players in Wales and Liam is one of those. We'd love to keep him in Wales but at the end of the day Liam's decision is his own," said Neil Jenkins, the kicking coach. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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