Headache for Wales coach Warren Gatland as Owen Williams opts to stay at Leicester

Williams has turned down a return to Wales to sign a new deal with Leicester Tigers

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The Independent Online

Owen Williams may be in the foothills of his career as an outside-half of unusually high calibre, but he is already doing his best to complicate matters at international level.

By rejecting an opportunity to return to his native Wales in favour of an enhanced deal at Leicester, the 22-year-old midfielder from Ystradgynlais is stress-testing his country’s latest policy on Red Dragon selection... and in World Cup year, too.

Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, is moving heaven and earth to keep his best players in the country, and is trying even harder to bring back those who have already left: the Lions centres Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, to name but two.

Williams, who left the Llanelli-based Scarlets for Welford Road 18 months ago, falls into the latter category, hence recent talk of him re-crossing the Severn Bridge to sign one of the new dual contracts, part funded by the Welsh Rugby Union, that lay at the heart of Gatland’s “bring ’em home and make ’em stay” policy.

Today the talking stopped. Williams, in eye-catching form for the Tigers, announced he would be staying in the English Midlands, thereby leaving Gatland in a quandary. Should he now ignore the youngster’s obvious World Cup potential – quite a risk, given the trajectory of Williams’ form in recent months – or weaken his own position by creating a special case?

Meanwhile, English rugby league convert Sam Burgess admitted he was finding the switch to union with Bath tougher than expected.

“I knew it was going to be tough but I didn’t know it was going to be as tough as this,” Burgess told Australia’s Fox Sports News. “But I came for the challenge and it certainly delivered that. I’ve no regrets.”

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