Warren Gatland believes there is a need for discussion on Wales’ 60-cap selection rule amid uncertainty surrounding the futures of several players.
he policy was established in 2017, with players who subsequently signed contracts to ply their trade outside Wales deemed ineligible for Test selection unless they have won at 60 caps or more.
And the situation is now magnified due to a recruitment freeze affecting Wales’ four professional regions of Cardiff, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets.
A new financial agreement between the regions and Welsh Rugby Union has yet to be confirmed in writing, sparking concern that players whose existing contracts expire at the end of this season could head away from Wales.
Wales and Dragons lock Will Rowlands is set to join French club Racing 92 for next season.
Current selection policy means he would not be available for Gatland’s World Cup squad later this year unless the rule is changed or he receives special dispensation from the Welsh game’s Professional Rugby Board.
“I think it (the 60-cap rule) is definitely something we need to talk about,” Wales head coach Gatland said.
I can’t blame players for exploring the options because there is a certain level of uncertainty in Welsh rugby at the momentWarren Gatland
“We need to be pragmatic, and it would be disappointing if some players miss out on the World Cup. Why shoot ourselves in the foot if we don’t need to?
“There has been so much turmoil in terms of getting the agreement sorted between the union and the regions. I think it would be a positive step moving forwards.
“I can’t blame players for exploring the options because there is a certain level of uncertainty in Welsh rugby at the moment, particularly for those who are out of contract.
“They need to think about their own personal situation, and that is perfectly understandable from my point of view. I would love to make sure we keep our top players in Wales.
“I don’t know if we need to look at the 60-cap rule, because at the moment, is it fit for purpose with this much uncertainty in the game in Wales at the moment?”
Gatland, meanwhile, is relishing being back for a second stint as Wales boss ahead of Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations visit to Cardiff on February 4.
His first spell in the job between 2008 and 2019 saw Wales win four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and reach two World Cup semi-finals.
“I think that one of the things we’ve done in the past is work incredibly hard as a group, and we will continue to do that,” he added.
“There have been games in the past when we’ve been able to hang in due to our fitness and were able to grind out wins against quality opposition.
“I know this group will work hard. If you ask them to run through a brick wall the answer they will give you is, ‘What do you want us to do when we get the other side?’
“We’ve got a new coaching group we need to embed in a short space of time, and the important thing is we implement clarity about the way we want to coach the team.
“We need to all be singing off the same page to hopefully give us the best possible chance.”