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Warren Gatland says Wales players distracted by talk of Ospreys-Scarlets merger | Rugby Union News

Wales head coach says potential changes to Welsh domestic rugby have been pushed by regions, not WRU

Last Updated: 05/03/19 5:28pm

Warren Gatland is preparing Wales to play Scotland on Saturday, with the Grand Slam still in their sights

Warren Gatland is preparing Wales to play Scotland on Saturday, with the Grand Slam still in their sights

Warren Gatland is preparing Wales to play Scotland on Saturday, with the Grand Slam still in their sights

Warren Gatland has admitted the talk of a potential merger between Ospreys and Scarlets has distracted the Wales players ahead of their Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday.

Wales go into the Test knowing they will seal their first Grand Slam for seven years if they can secure victory in Edinburgh, followed by a win over reigning champions Ireland in Cardiff on the final weekend.

However, the Welsh Rugby Union’s (WRU) plans to potentially merge two of Wales’ regions, and create a new region in north Wales, have come at an awkward time for Gatland.

He said: “There is no doubt the players have been distracted. Players are going home and they have been asked questions about what is going on and what is going to happen.

Wales are close to their third Grand Slam under Gatland Wales are close to their third Grand Slam under Gatland

Wales are close to their third Grand Slam under Gatland

“There is no doubt it has been a distraction, and we are trying to limit that distraction, which is why we had the meeting yesterday to try and inform the players about what was going on so we could put it behind us and really focus on an important game for us.

“There is no doubt it has been a challenge for the players in the last couple of days.”

The Professional Rugby Board met on Tuesday to discuss the potential changes to domestic rugby in Wales but, before they could do so, Ospreys chairman Mark James resigned from the region in protest at the WRU’s handling of the situation.

Gatland says, however, that the changes are being pushed by the regions, rather than the WRU, explaining: “This hasn’t been driven by the union. The union was approached by two of the regions about a consideration about a possible merger.

Alun Wyn Jones, the Wales captain, urged his teammates to focus on the Test against Scotland Alun Wyn Jones, the Wales captain, urged his teammates to focus on the Test against Scotland

Alun Wyn Jones, the Wales captain, urged his teammates to focus on the Test against Scotland

“This proposal came from the regions to the Professional Rugby Board, and they will sit down and hopefully find a solution.

“We have a special group of players at the moment, and Alun Wyn Jones said at the end of the meeting that our whole focus has to be on Saturday and preparing for the best way to play Scotland.

“Sometimes you have to have the ability in all walks of life, whether it be professional or sport, to put adversity behind you and focus on your job. I am sure the players will do that.”

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