Richard Hibbard To Stay At Gloucester As Scarlets Fans Wait For Liam Williams Move

Richard Hibbard has extended his stay in English rugby as reports continue to link Liam Williams with a move to Saracens.

Hibbard – first choice hooker the last time the Lions played a Test in 2013 – has signed a new two-year contract at Gloucester.

The former Ospreys forward is currently in his third season at Kingsholm, but has been overlooked by Wales since winning his 38th cap in August 2015.

Hibbard said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time with Gloucester and, once the club approached me about extending my stay, it was an easy decision to make.

“I feel I’ve improved my game since I arrived. The Aviva Premiership is a tough league, there are no easy games and I think that’s actually benefitted me as a player.

“I love playing at Kingsholm, the club and the supporters have been terrific to me and I’m really happy that I’ll be staying and playing my part in what we hope will be a successful period in the club’s history.”

Wales and Scarlets full-back Williams has again been linked with a move to the Aviva Premiership.

The 25-year-old has been offered a contract by Saracens but neither the English champions nor his current region have yet confirmed he has rejected a national dual contract in order to move over the border.

If that happens, then Williams could find himself competing for one of four wildcard places available in 2017-2018 under Welsh Rugby Union rules for players who ply their trade outside Wales.

Speaking on Tuesday, Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said: “We’ve said we want to keep our best players in Wales, and Liam is certainly one of those.

“We would love to keep him in Wales.

“I am sure we will fight in every way possible to keep our best players, and Liam is one of them.”

The WRU senior player selection policy currently limits the number of wildcard players to three for any one international campaign. It affects players who play outside Wales if they have rejected a contract offer in Wales.

Wildcard selections in Wales’ current autumn Test squad are Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts, Northampton wing George North and Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, meanwhile, could also find himself on the list of so-called captured players next year if he signs a new contract with his current club Toulon, rather than return to Wales.

Jenkins added: “We have said from day one that we want our best players playing in Wales. Leigh comes into that category, and so does Liam.

“We would love Leigh back, and we would love to keep Liam, there is no doubting that.

“If Leigh stays (in Toulon), if Liam goes, it does become an issue, obviously, but at some point in time it is an opportunity for other players as well.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *