Rhys Priestland: Bath fly-half did not consider Wales rule in signing new deal

New Zealand's Dane Coles tackles Rhys Priestland
Rhys Priestland (left) won the most recent of his 48 Wales caps against New Zealand in June 2016

Rhys Priestland says Wales' wildcard selection rules played no part in his decision to sign a new contract that will keep him at Bath until 2019.

Taulupe Faletau, George North and Jamie Roberts were the three wildcards - players based outside Wales - included in their squad for the November Tests.

That meant Priestland was omitted.

Asked if he had considered the national selection policy before re-signing for Bath, the 30-year-old former Scarlets fly-half said: "No, not really."

Priestland added he had not spoken to anyone in Wales about the possibility of returning to play for one of the nation's four regional teams.

"I'm settled up here," he said. "I enjoy playing in this league. I enjoy living in Bath, so for me it would be my preferred option to stay up here.

"And thankfully they wanted me to stay as well."

Priestland joined Bath after the 2015 World Cup, later reversing his decision to take a sabbatical from Wales internationals.

In October, he backed the Welsh Rugby Union's selection policy, and said he expected to be omitted from their autumn games against Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

Staying at Bath 'not a tough decision'

Priestland's season has been disrupted by injury, but he says he has "loved his time" at Bath.

He added: "It's competitive every week and it's all different challenges.

"You're playing in front of good crowds and good teams and the standard's very good in this league as well.

"When they offered me a contract it wasn't a tough decision to make."

Priestland's verdict on Bath

Bath are fourth in the Premiership but have lost their past three matches - to Wasps, Exeter and Newcastle.

Priestland said: "Everyone here is excited about the direction the club is going. Everyone's impressed by the coaches.

"I know it dropped off a little bit recently, but you can still see some improvement in the way we're playing.

"If we can sort a few things out, I'm sure we'll go back to challenging for the top of the table and hopefully we can do that for the next few years as well."

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