Gareth Anscombe wants to stay in Wales with Cardiff Blues, according to coach John Mulvihill, and the two parties are close to agreeing a new deal.
Anscombe raised doubts about his future – and that of other top players – amid uncertainty over the restructuring of the Welsh regions.
A merger between the Ospreys and the Scarlets had been mooted earlier this month, and Grand Slam winner Anscombe suggested it could lead to Wales’ heroes looking elsewhere – even though it could harm their international eligibility.
Mulvihill is confident Anscombe has no intention of leaving, though, despite greater financial rewards being available elsewhere.
“Hopefully we are getting closer,” said the Blues coach. “There are a few contractual issues we are trying to work through to make a final offer to Gareth that I think shows his worth in the game in Wales.
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“He can get a lot more money playing overseas, but he doesn’t want to do that.
“He wants to play for Wales, he wants to go to the World Cup and I think deep down in his heart he wants to be at Cardiff Blues with all his mates here.
“We are just working through that and hopefully we can get something done in the next few weeks.
“I want him to stay here and hopefully sooner or later we can sort it out.”
Cardiff fly-half Anscombe, whose existing national dual contract expires at the end of this season, is thought to be a target for Gallagher Premiership clubs Bath and Harlequins. And the 27-year-old has delivered a powerful message to the Welsh Rugby Union and regional chiefs following Wales’ stunning Six Nations triumph.
Asked if the current strife had made him think about leaving for England, Anscombe said: “I think it has made all the boys think about that, to be honest. “We’ve only got a 10-year window to really look after ourselves, and I guess the important thing is you don’t want to look back with any regrets.
“It has been tough with what is going on in Welsh rugby. It’s not ideal and not what you want to be dealing with as a player. Hopefully, we can put this mess behind us and focus on this (the Grand Slam), which we should all be really excited about.”
If Anscombe moves away from Wales, his Test career would be stalled as he is comfortably under the minimum 60-cap selection requirement to be eligible in that scenario. “We all want to play for Wales – there is no doubt about that – but
players need to be treated well, and we deserve to be,” he added.
“We are doing a hell of a lot for the team and the country, so we should be looked after. That needs to get sorted, and as players we deserve to get the best deals possible. There is a fair bit going on behind the scenes which needs to get sorted. I would love to keep playing for Wales, but we’ve got to work out a few things, for sure.
“We are a world-class team and we deserve to be where we are. We’re not far off beating anyone, we are number two in the world now, so hopefully that gets reciprocated both ways. We have given the Union something to be pretty proud about, and hopefully the union and the regions can come together and sort out the best deals for the players, because that is important.”
On the field, Anscombe’s consistently-impressive form proved integral to Wales’ success – and it should have silenced social media critics who often wade into him. Whether at fly-half or full-back – a role he filled for most of the Ireland game due to an injury reshuffle – he will be a key part of Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s World Cup planning.
Additional reporting Press Association
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