Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Premiership Is Facing a Wales Conundrum

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Premiership Is Facing a Wales Conundrum

Article excerpt

WALES and Premiership Rugby could be on a collision course over the availability of England-based players for next month's opening autumn Test against Australia.

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley has revealed that Northampton wing George North and Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts have told him they will be available to face the Wallabies in Cardiff on November 5. But Premiership Rugby - umbrella organisation for England's 12 Aviva Premiership clubs - do not release non-England players who ply their trade in the Premiership for Tests that fall outside World Rugby's autumn international window.

The Australia game is outside of that official three-weekend slot - Wales also face Argentina, Japan and South Africa next month - and it is understood that Premiership Rugby's policy is unchanged. It could be that North and Roberts have full release written into their club contracts for autumn Tests, although Northampton were fined PS60,000 in 2013 when they released North for an out-of-window Test against Australia. He has subsequently signed a new Saints deal.

"We've had no formal conversations with any of the English clubs, but having spoken to the players, they are available to play," Howley said. "Some of them are available for the Australia game, and we will have to make sure we pick from the availability.

"The players who I have spoken to are the likes of Jamie, George and Toby (Taulupe Faletau). Toby is injured, but Jamie and George, as far as we are concerned having spoken to them, are available for the Australia game.

"There has been no formal communication between ourselves and PRL (Premiership Rugby Limited)."

It is unclear whether other Premiershipbased players announced by Howley on Tuesday in a 36-man autumn Test squad - Bath lock Luke Charteris, Exeter prop Tomas Francis and Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty - might be available.

Uncapped Ospreys pair Sam Davies and Rory Thornton, meanwhile, have been named in the autumn squad, with North, Roberts and Faletau being Howley's permitted three wildcard selections from a current list of seven players affected by the Welsh Rugby Union's new senior player selection policy covering players based outside Wales. …

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