Jasmine Joyce and Siwan Lillicrap are among those accepting 12-month deals with WRU
12 Wales Women’s players given full-time contracts
Team GB speedster Jasmine Joyce and national captain Siwan Lillicrap are among the 12 Wales Women’s players given full-time contracts by the WRU.
The Welsh governing body originally announced last year that ten players would be contracted ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand but this has been expanded to 12.
As well as Joyce and Lillicrap, Wales’ first full-time players are props Gwenllian Pyrs and Donna Rose, hooker Carys Phillips, lock Natalia John, back-row Alisha Butchers, scrum-halves Kiera Bevan and Ffion Lewis, fly-half Elinor Snowsill, centre Hannah Jones and wing Lisa Neumann.
These dozen players have 12-month contracts that started this week, while a further 15 players will be given retainer contracts, with news on that expected in the next few weeks.
WRU performance director Nigel Walker said: “The historic awarding of 12 full-time contracts will enable all these players to be full-time professionals and have regular, weekly contact with head coach Ioan Cunningham, the rest of the coaches and our expert science and medical team.
“All of this will make a significant difference to the players’ preparation, fitness and skill-sets in order to enable us to challenge the best teams in the world.”
Wales have finished bottom of the Six Nations for the past two years, but they did beat Japan and South Africa in November. It is hoped these contracts will help improve performances in this year’s championship, which starts in late March, as well as at the World Cup. Wales are in Pool A alongside hosts New Zealand, Australia and the Final Qualifier Winner, which will be determined next month.
In terms of selecting the players who would receive full-time contracts, head coach Cunningham said: “We had to be fairly clinical and even ruthless. We clearly have short- and medium-term goals in terms of the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup but we also have an eye on developing the best players for the future of Welsh rugby.
“Props Gwenllian Pyrs and Donna Rose are both dynamic ball-carriers, Carys Phillips is an exceptional talent as a throwing hooker, Natalia John has a huge work-rate and was one of our standout performers of the autumn.
“In the back row, Siwan Lillicrap and Alisha Butchers are both excellent rugby players and great leaders on the pitch. Alisha has a fantastic skill-set, Siwan is our captain and has an amazing understanding of the game. Both deserve this opportunity to improve further physically and technically.
“We wanted to include two full-time scrum-halves in the group and we feel Keira Bevan and Ffion Lewis will complement and challenge each other within the environment. Keira is very sharp, Ffion identifies running opportunities, and we want to develop them both to be two of the best scrum-halves in the world.
“Elinor Snowsill is an experienced player, understands the game brilliantly, and being part of a full-time environment will help her make a bigger impact in the game physically and provide the opportunity to hone key skills at outside-half.
“Hannah Jones loves the physical side of rugby and leads defensively from the centre, Lisa Neumann is a powerful, attacking runner and Jaz’s talents are clearly already world-class with one of the best strike rates in world rugby, but having these players in full-time will give them a chance to develop all aspects of their game and become even better athletes and rugby players.”
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