Wales: Taulupe Faletau says ‘it’s hard to give your all’ amid contract row
Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau admits it’s a “tough time” across the regions as rugby in the country is in a difficult place at the moment.
With huge funding cuts leading to significantly reduced contract offers on the table for players, an exodus to clubs abroad is on the cards for those in Wales.
The turmoil led to the threat of a players’ strike before the Six Nations clash with England, but thankfully the match went ahead after a mini breakthrough.
Contract row in Wales
However, there has since been plenty of noise coming out of the four regions – Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – that many players are poised to depart.
For Faletau and several others in the Wales camp, such concerns are having to be put to one side while the Championship takes place, which has been tough.
“It is just unfortunate, and the situation we are all in at the moment is not great for anyone involved,” said the Cardiff number eight ahead of Saturday’s game.
“It’s not just Cardiff, it is all across the regions. It’s just a tough time we are stuck in at the moment.
“You are always going to try to put your best foot forward, but when things aren’t going well off the pitch it’s hard to give your all then.
“In rugby, we are all a family and are in it together at the end of the day. It is a tough period to see people struggling.”
Wales are currently sitting bottom of the Six Nations table on zero points as they fly to Rome to take on an Italy side who beat them one year ago in Cardiff.
With the unwanted distraction of the contract situation in the country, Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins expressed sympathy with players caught up in it.
“It is not an ideal place to be in in any walk of life, in any job that you do, whether it be sport or outside of sport,” said the former Wales and Lions player.
“People have got homes, families, mortgages, bills. It has not been a good time, and it is a tough time for the guys.
“There are jobs on the line and livelihoods on the line, that is the reality of it. We have to just keep our heads down and keep going. That is all we can do, and hopefully things are moving forward and getting resolved.”
On the field with Wales though and Warren Gatland’s men are set to go up against a dangerous Italy side, who have impressed Jenkins in the opening games.
Impressed by Azzurri
“They are playing a certain style of rugby that is exciting to watch, but can also put you under the pump, under pressure,” he added.
“We’ve watched the games already in the Six Nations with France, England and Ireland – quality opposition that they have been up against – but they more than held their own.
“We are playing against a very, very good side and we need to be at full tilt, there is no doubting that, otherwise we could come unstuck.
“They have got an awful lot of talent in the team, and they are not afraid to play from anywhere.
“I think they tend to make good decisions as well – it is not just based on throwing the ball about willy-nilly.
“They have got good structures and make good decisions. It will be a very, very tough test for us on Saturday.”
READ MORE: Ange Capuozzo: Italy star out of the remainder of the Six Nations while Wales wing Alex Cuthbert also sidelined
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