Cardiff Blues star Gareth Anscombe is among a group of four players to commit their futures to Regional rugby and Wales by signing National Dual Contracts, taking the total number in the current group to twelve.
Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar (both Ospreys) and Scott Williams (Scarlets) have all become NDC players, just 24 hours after Rhys Webb (Ospreys) was announced as the eighth signing.
The four latest signings join Captain Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Jake Ball, Samson Lee, Rhodri Jones (all Scarlets) and Tyler Morgan and Hallam Amos (both Newport Gwent Dragons).
The twelve players represent a cross section of the four Regional teams: Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons.
Wales Head Coach, Warren Gatland, said: “Alun Wyn, Dan, Scott and Gareth represent a cross section of experience, but each one of them is a player of proven talent.
“Within the group of twelve we have signed a mixture of emerging talent and players who have secured reputations for excellence through their appearances for their Regions, Wales and the British & Irish Lions.
“The strength of the group is of great benefit to professional rugby in Wales and we are looking forward to working closely with the Regions and these players in the years ahead.”
The Group Chief Executive of the WRU, Roger Lewis, added: “We have achieved our ambition of securing some of our most talented players under the umbrella of National Dual Contracts.
“This is a landmark moment for Welsh rugby and serves as evidence of our ambition to protect and develop Regional rugby while ensuring the national squad can remain competitive in the top tier of the international game.
“I want to thank everyone involved in the process from the Regions, within the WRU and of course the players themselves for helping us embark on this journey.”
Each of the four new players welcomed the opportunity of becoming National Dual Contract players.
Gareth Anscombe of Cardiff Blues, said: “I am extremely grateful to have been added to the list of National Dual Contract players in Wales.
“This makes me more determined than ever to become the best I possibly can be as a player so that I can compete for my Blues place and strive for international honours with Wales.”
Billy Millard, Head of Elite Performance at Cardiff Blues, said: “We are pleased to see Gareth join Sam Warburton and commit his future to both Wales and our Region by signing an NDC.
“Gareth is an ambitious and talented young player who is committed to producing his best rugby for Cardiff Blues. Signing an NDC gives him the very best chance to do just that while fulfilling his future international aspirations.”
Osprey Alun Wyn Jones said: “For me the National Dual Contract allows me to continue playing with ambition for the Ospreys and put myself in the best position to be selected for Wales.
“Hopefully, now a good number of players have committed to this process, there will be a clear pathway of progression for youth and regional players to perform on the international stage.”
Dan Biggar said: “I’m thrilled to have signed an NDC and honoured to have been considered for one in the first place.
“After a lot of consideration it’s apparent that it’s in the best interests of all parties. I am as committed as I’ve ever been to pulling on an Ospreys shirt, being an Osprey is all I’ve ever known.
“My focus, once Saturday’s huge game for Wales is out of the way, is making as big a contribution to the Ospreys’ season as I can.
“Ensuring that we’re in the end of season playoff games remains a huge motivation for me, it’s where a club of the Ospreys standing should be.
“I’m looking forward to the next 18 months with the Ospreys and Wales immensely, a period which should be a special time for Welsh rugby as a whole.”
Andrew Millward, Rugby General Manager, Ospreys Rugby, said: "It's fantastic news for the Ospreys, for Wales and for Alun Wyn and Dan, that we have been able to secure the services of two more key players on NDCs.
“I've no doubt that, with their undoubted qualities, both of these players will continue to serve their home region, and their country, with distinction."
Scarlet Scott Williams said: “It is a great honour to be offered a National Dual Contract and I am delighted to be amongst the first group of players to take up this opportunity.
“I am very grateful to all the assistance I have at the Scarlets and within the Wales coaching structure and I am now looking forward to continuing to work as hard as I can within Welsh rugby.”
Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Scarlets Rugby Jon Daniels said; “Seeing Scott commit to an NDC alongside fellow Scarlets Jake Ball, Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones is a boost for both the Region and Wales.
“As one of our homegrown talents from within the heart of our Region Scott whole-heartedly epitomises Scarlets rugby.
“He is a great role model for the Region’s next generation of Scarlets and always leads by example showing maturity beyond his years as vice-captain this season.
“We are delighted that Scott has decided to remain at the Scarlets where he feels at home and will undoubtedly continue to go from strength to strength for both Region and country.”