Alun Wyn Jones: Dual-contracts beneficial, says Wales and Ospreys lock

By Gareth RobertsBBC Wales Sport
Alun Wyn Jones
Alun Wyn Jones won the first of his 102 Wales caps on tour to Argentina in 2006
Pro12: Ospreys v Cardiff Blues
Date: Friday, 7 October Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Wales & online. Highlights later on the BBC Sport website and Scrum V on Sunday, BBC Two Wales from 18:00 BST

Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones has called on supporters to see the long-term benefits of leading Welsh players being dual-contracted to both their region and the Welsh Rugby Union.

The 31-year-old understands the criticism of fans who want to see the top talent regularly in action.

But ahead of the first Welsh Pro12 derby in which Ospreys host Cardiff Blues on Friday, Jones backed the dual deals.

"It's a great invention," said Jones.

"Hopefully you can keep that player, look after him and you'll have them for longer."

Jones signed an extension to his national dual contract (NDC) in January 2016 and is among a number of Welsh players whose deals mean 60% of their salaries are met by the WRU with the rest paid by their teams.

However, the two-time British and Irish Lions tourist admits players can be "walking contradictions" over the limits on game time they sign up to when accepting dual contacts.

"There are advantages and disadvantages for the players and supporters alike," said Jones.

"Obviously players want to play a lot of rugby.

"We're walking contradictions at times. We want to play a lot of rugby, but we don't want to play too much rugby and we want to be available for all the big games.

Dan Lydiate
Dan Lydiate left Racing Metro to join Ospreys in December 2014

"But then there's times when we might have to sacrifice that because of game limits etc, etc.

"But also from the supporters' point of view if you're paying money for a season ticket you want to see all the best players - or all the perceived best players - playing all the rugby all the time.

"But where we find ourselves with the game now we can't expect to do that because there are so many internationals, so many domestic games, hence the inception of the NDC.

"So the NDCs are advantageous for that."

Ospreys team-mates Dan Biggar, Dan Lydiate and Rhys Webb are among the other Wales international on national dual contracts.

Jones says players who are at a stage at which they are becoming established will benefit most from being on dual deals.

"If you're a 24 to 25-year-old player that's getting on to an NDC and you're established or getting established at a regional or breaking into your international career, you'll be playing in front of the supporters for longer, albeit less games per year, but you'll have them for longer in the country," he said.

"So if we can be as positive and see the foresight that actually we'll potentially get a player for longer, then it's great.

"But obviously we can be short-sighted in that respect sometimes because we're available for less [overall time]."

Ospreys defence coach Brad Davis hopes Wales flanker Lydiate will be declared fit after his recovery from shoulder surgery to face Blues.

The Swansea-based team are aware of the ball-carrying threat posed by Blues' number eight Nick Williams and Lydiate's defensive strengths could be a boost for the hosts.

"Dan's progressing well and hopefully he'll come into selection and give [head coach] Steve [Tandy] a few headaches in terms of the team he wants to pick Friday night," said Davis.

After their 9-7 defeat at Ulster on the weekend, Ospreys lie fifth in the table, two points behind fourth-placed Welsh pacesetters Blues.