Rowlands confirms Dragons exit - but Wales star hopes it won't end World Cup dream

LEAVING: Dragons captain Will Rowlands is going at the end of the season
LEAVING: Dragons captain Will Rowlands is going at the end of the season

THE Dragons have confirmed that Will Rowlands is leaving at the end of the season – with the Wales star hopeful a move won’t end his World Cup dream.

The 31-year-old lock’s deal expires next summer and he has been in demand, receiving a bumper offer from French giants Racing 92.

Rowlands, who is currently sidelined by a shoulder injury suffered in the autumn internationals, has opted against staying in Wales and informed the Rodney Parade club that he would be moving on.

“We’re obviously disappointed to be losing a player of Will’s quality, but despite the best efforts of ourselves, Will’s representative and the WRU over the last 12 months or so, we were unable to reach agreement on terms for the future,” said head coach Dai Flanagan.

“Since arriving in Gwent, Will has been a hugely positive influence on our group, captaining the side and being named Wales’ player of the year.

“We know that he’ll continue to give his absolute all to the club for the remainder of his time with us and he will always be welcome at Rodney Parade."

South Wales Argus: LEAVING: Dragons and Wales lock Will Rowlands will head out of the Rodney Parade door at the end of the season
South Wales Argus: LEAVING: Dragons and Wales lock Will Rowlands will head out of the Rodney Parade door at the end of the season

LEAVING: Dragons and Wales lock Will Rowlands will head out of the Rodney Parade door at the end of the season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Rowlands, who qualifies for Wales through his father from Pontllanfraith, signed from Wasps in 2021 to improve his international chances.

He has been a huge hit for the Dragons and has also become a mainstay of the Wales XV, breaking up the partnership of talisman Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard.

Rowlands has won 23 caps and moving out of Wales will make him unavailable for Warren Gatland under the Welsh Rugby Union selection policy, as individuals need to have hit 60 caps when playing outside of the country.

“It is still my great hope that I will be able to represent my country in the World Cup 2023, if called upon,” said the forward.

Rowlands’ influence at Rodney Parade led to him being named as co-captain with Harri Keddie for this season.

He said: "I am sad to be leaving Dragons RFC at the end of this season but would like to thank everyone involved with the club for their support over the past 18 months.

“It has been a pleasure to play at Rodney Parade and I know that the future is bright for this club. It’s home to some truly talented players and I really believe in the vision of Dai and the other coaches.

“I have no doubt that we are just beginning to see the seeds of that in the performances of the team, and that they will go from strength to strength.”