Gareth Anscombe fired a warning to Welsh rugby – sort out the regional chaos or risk an exodus of the Grand Slam heroes to English clubs.
The fly-half, 27, who kicked Wales to the Six Nations title and won man of the match in the final game against Ireland having notched 20 points in a sublime display sent a warning to Welsh suits.
Pandemonium at the regions threatened to de-rail Wales’ Championship clean sweep, as talk of mergers, limiting pay-bands and uncertainty over contracts wrought havoc behind the scenes.
Gareth Anscombe was the subject of abuse on Twitter after swapping shirts with Owen Farrell
Anscombe has warned Welsh Rugby Union of a potential player exodus
And the Cardiff Blues man, who has sparked Premiership interest as his deal runs out in the summer, said Wales’ winners have thought about jumping ship if they are not paid properly.
At present if players with fewer than 60 caps leave Wales they cannot play for the national side, but Anscombe, on 26, warned of a flight to England or France if the regions do not pay up for ‘world-class’ players.
‘It has made all the boys think about that to be honest,’ he said.
‘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.
‘We’ve only got a 10-year window to look after ourselves. You don’t want to look back with any regrets. At times when they try and pigeon hole you into something it’s a little bit frustrating.
‘Hopefully we can put this mess behind us and focus on this (the Grand Slam) which we should all be really excited about.
Anscombe was man of the match after kicking 20 points in Wales’ win over Ireland
‘We’re a world class team and we deserve to be where we are. We’re not far off beating anyone, we’re No 2 in the world now, so hopefully that gets reciprocated.
‘We’ve given the union something to be pretty proud about and hopefully the union and the regions come together and sort out the best deals for the players because that’s important.
‘We are doing a hell of a lot for the team and the country so we should be looked after.
‘As players we deserve to get the best deals possible. I’d love to keep playing for Wales, but I’ve got a decision to make. Hopefully we’ll have some news soon.’
Anscombe played for New Zealand U20s before converting to Wales in 2015, qualifying thanks to his Welsh mother who named him after Welsh legend Sir Gareth Edwards.
Anscombe believes Wales’ Grand Slam heroes can go ruffle a few feathers in Japan
Since arriving in Wales he has been the subject of vitriolic abuse from Twitter trolls.
After beating England in the Six Nations, Anscombe’s fiancee posted a proud picture of the couple.
Anscombe had swapped shirts with opposite number Owen Farrell and was wearing the red rose in the picture, which brought savage criticism from some behind their laptops.
But the playmaker hopes his recent performances shuts them up.
‘I will probably never be the darling boy of Welsh rugby, and that’s fine by me,’ he added.
‘As long as people see I try my best hopefully that will improve in the years to come.
Anscombe admits he will likely always have to contend with negative backlash from the public
‘The boys know how fickle Welsh rugby is. We have all been through it. I have a good couple of mates who have gone through it and left. This is the life we live now.
‘My family has always been tremendous, my fiancee is always there to help me.
‘I am sure I am going to have days where people will criticise again. That is just the way it is. It is one side of it. I am trying to enjoy my rugby.
‘I have seen other guys get it. I am not the first and won’t be the last. It is the way that social media works these days, particularly on Twitter and things like that people have opinions that are usually negative.
‘That’s why they want to voice them. I have said all along it’s more important to me what the team think than what they think.
‘I am a bit older, more mature and have got better at not sweating over those things. It’s been difficult, definitely.
‘I won’t be able to change everyone. I will keep my head down and let my rugby do the talking.’
He wants to repay those who have backed him as Wales seek their first World Cup triumph
When he was presented with the man-of-the-match trophy at the Principality Stadium after Wales’ 25-7 win to seal the Slam, the ground roared their approval.
And now Anscombe wants to repay those who have backed him with the World Cup.
‘I have had a love-hate relationship with the supporters for some reason,’ he said.
‘But that (reception) was nice. I appreciate that. For some reason there is a consensus in the rugby public that they don’t rate us. That suits us down to the ground.
‘We have reason to believe we can go to Japan and ruffle a few feathers.’
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