Ospreys-Scarlets merger: Wales hooker Ken Owens 'deeply concerned'

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Project Reset: There is a 'little anger' over merger talks - Owens

Wales and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens says he is "deeply concerned" about plans to merge Ospreys and Scarlets.

As part of Project Reset the rival regions are expected to merge, with a new team created in the north of Wales.

It would leave some players in limbo with no security over their futures.

The controversy has also led to the resignation of Ospreys chairman Mike James, who blamed the Welsh Rugby Union's "catastrophic mismanagement" of revamping regional rugby.

Owens, chairman of the Welsh players' union, said: "This is the most challenging situation that I or arguably any player has faced during our careers.

"I am deeply concerned about the situation the players across the four regions face."

In a statement released by the Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA), the British and Irish Lion added: "It's also clear players need to be represented... because they can and must be part of the solution. Without them there is no Welsh rugby."

WRPA chief executive Andries Pretorius said uncertainty could lead to numerous players being lost to Welsh rugby - and lamented the timing, given Grand Slam-chasing Wales' game against Scotland on Saturday.

"It would also be terrible for players, fans and our sport to lose Welsh talent to clubs in England or France who are offering the security players need in their short careers," said former Wales forward Pretorius.

"We can only hope Project Reset will enhance our game in Wales, but it has thrown up far more questions than it has answered so far - and could the timing of all this be any worse?"

Welsh rugby's newly formed Professional Rugby Board (PRB) will discuss the proposals on Tuesday as part of their plan to make the most radical change to regional rugby in Wales since 2003.

A merger could be confirmed as early as Sunday, with the new region potentially playing in the Pro14 in the 2019-20 season.

'Project Reset has become Project Inept'

James' fellow Ospreys benefactor Rob Davies has taken over as chairman at the Swansea-based region.

Ospreys say James announced his resignation at the start of the PRB meeting.

He said later: "None of us doubt that regional rugby requires restructuring in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the game.

"The way in which this has been handled however is nothing short of chaotic, resulting in a fatal combination of uncertainty, conjecture and insecurity now hanging over regional rugby's future.

"To methodically, rationally and impartially map out the future of regional rugby is one thing, to fatally wound it with an ill-judged, cavalier process is another.

"We now have the worst of all worlds - a lack of clarity, a lack of transparency and a total inability to plan ahead. Project Reset has become Project Inept.

"I cannot and will not be a party to this level of catastrophic mismanagement.

"Certainty has to be restored and quickly. The restructuring process itself has to be revisited, with appropriate checks and balances, independent oversight and transparency.

"We already have so many disadvantages in keeping pace with the professional game, we don't need more."

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