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Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Monday, 6 December 2010

Johnson calls for cash 'top-up' to keep Welsh stars


Johnson wants to keep top talent

Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson urged the Welsh Rugby Union to give the regions "top-ups" so they can keep the best players in Wales.

Johnson says top-ups may be required to fend off big-money offers to players from abroad.

The Ospreys have already lost Wales fly-half James Hook who is leaving at the end of the season, and has been linked with French side Perpignan.

"Did we want to lose James Hook? No we didn't,"Johnson told the BBC's Scrum V.

"But while the big fish lay abroad, it's very, very tempting, but the commercial realities hit home that there may have to be top-ups to keep players locally.

"I think the national team needs the players to remain here.

"They've [WRU] got to be clear with their mandate: Are they selected if they go abroad? If not, they've [regions] got to be topped up to get somewhere close to the commercial realities that are out there.

"If we've developed the kid, we'd like to keep him."

Johnson added that regional directors are paying above the grants they receive from the WRU to keep local talent in Wales.

Former Wales scrum-half Rob Jones says he understand the difficulties for the regions, but insists players based away from Wales should still be picked for the national side.

"The money on offer, in France in particular, is far greater than it is here in Wales," he said.

"You've got to understand that for the players it's a short career and they probably will go for the right money.

"Then [Wales coach] Warren Gatland has to look at his policy of whether he selects those players.

"We're a small nation, we haven't got a huge amount of strength and we need everyone who is available to be part of that Welsh set-up whether they're playing in France or England."

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see also
Hook offered 'unprecedented' deal
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Fly-half desire 'fuels' Hook move
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Wales star Hook to leave Ospreys
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