The Rugby Paper revealed earlier this week that ambitious English club Bristol were interested in acquiring the services of the Kiwi-born 27-year-old, offering him a deal of £500,000-per-year to make the switch to the Bears, exceeding Anscombe’s current earning potential in Wales by at least £150,000 annually.
The move would rule Anscombe out of contention for international selection, as any foreign-based Welsh player must have 60 test caps to their name in order to still be eligible for the national side.
With just 26 appearances for Wales since his test debut in 2015, this year’s World Cup in Japan would act as Anscombe’s swansong from international rugby should he choose to take the contract offered by Bristol.
“He wants to play test rugby. He doesn’t want to leave,” he told the BBC.
“You’re never confident until you see a signature on a piece of paper but I think we’ll be very close. I don’t think he’s leaving Wales.
“To be fair to him, I feel a bit sorry for Gareth. His name’s been touted about all over the place and that’s not from him. He’s one of the leaders in our group and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
“This is his first club in Wales, all his mates play here, he lives in Cardiff, he’s happy here and his wife’s happy here in work.
“It’s up to him to make those final decisions but when we come down to those decisions it’s going to be based around the programme, and we’re currently the best team in Wales and performing the best this season.
“I don’t think he’d want to move away from that and he’s been a big part of our success. I’d say he’d want to stay.”
Mulvihill’s comments come after current Scarlets and incoming Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, who coached Anscombe in New Zealand during the pair’s time at Auckland, told Wales Online that he hoped the playmaker stays in Wales to keep his test ambitions alive.
“From my point of view, I have coached Gareth before and he is an excellent player. We have seen that in recent times,” he said.
“I would like to see him remain. I have had a working relationship with Gareth in the past. Hopefully the decision he makes is that he remains in Wales and we have his services going forward.”
In a statement that will likely ease concerns held by both Pivac and Mulvihill, Bristol head coach Pat Lam, who coached Anscombe at Super Rugby level with the Blues in 2012, effectively ruled out signing his former player.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gareth Anscombe stay exactly where he is in Wales,” he told the BBC.
“I got three 10s next year [so] why would I pay that amount of money for someone else? I think we’ve been linked to [AJ] MacGinty, [Rhys] Priestland, [Danny] Cipriani. What I’ll say is it’s a great ploy by agents or others.”
Anscombe, after helping steer Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam title last month, will now turn his attention to helping Cardiff secure a Pro14 play-offs spot, starting this week with a difficult away clash against Munster.
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