Shane Williams wants young stars to stay in Wales

Shane Williams
© PA Photos
Wales international Shane Williams believes that the team's rising stars should reject moves to France and keep playing their club rugby on home soil.

Wales's record try scorer Shane Williams has called on his fellow countrymen to play their rugby on home soil instead of leaving for France.

The likes of Lee Byrne, Mike Philips and James Hook made the jump to foreign turf at the end of last season and there are fears that 22-year-old Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert could be the latest star heading to France.

While Williams would prefer that the nation's rising prospects remain in Wales, the 35-year-old understands that money is a big factor behind the recent exodus.

"There are massive financial benefits of going abroad but the last thing I want to do is encourage players to leave Wales," said Williams. "As a Welsh fan myself, I'd much prefer to see these boys playing in Wales, but current economic times don't help that.

"With Cuthbert, he's got a big rugby future ahead of him. Is it the time to go? I can't tell you that. It's very appealing and it's a big step from what they're earning at the moment. There's pros and cons with both.

"I'd love to see them stay. I'd much rather see the likes of Cuthbert and these youngsters staying in Wales and playing for their regions, and then making it easier for them to play for their country. But that's almost an impossible feat at the moment because the French sides are chucking so much money at these youngsters. You really can't blame them for going."

From next season onwards, Welsh clubs will implement a £3.5m salary cap on their players.

Dan Lydiate
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