Siwan Lillicrap: Wales women captain 'confident' of paid player contracts

Siwan Lillicrap (right) in training
Siwan Lillicrap (right) has been at Wales training this week for their rescheduled Six Nations match against Scotland

Captain Siwan Lillicrap believes Wales could introduce paid contracts for their leading female players within the next year.

The Welsh Rugby Union announced in July it wanted to make its senior women's squad semi or fully professional.

Outgoing chief executive Martyn Phillips said he would like contracts for leading players in place before the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.

"I do feel confident that in my career that does happen," said Lillicrap, 32.

"Listening to what Martyn Phillips has openly said before, I am confident the WRU will follow through on what has been said.

"I'd say I am hoping that happens in the next 12 months."

Phillips said there would be a performance "bar" that players would have to reach to trigger a contract.

That level has yet to be set and will probably be agreed between the likes of the new head coach - yet to be appointed - and WRU performance director Ryan Jones.

Bristol Bears number eight Lillicrap is one of several Wales players who play their club rugby in England.

And although the vast majority of the Wales squad play in the English top flight, none of them are paid by the WRU.

England, by contrast, offered 28 full-time 15-a-side contracts to female players from January 2019.

On Tuesday, Darren Edwards was named Wales women's interim head coach while the WRU searches for a permanent head coach to lead the side through until the 2021 World Cup and 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Although Edwards is only due to take charge of one game - the rescheduled Six Nations match against Scotland - the former Dragons coach is aiming to help Wales build for the future, which he hopes will include paid contracts for players.

"I'm sure the WRU will still have the same mindset," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"From a bigger picture point of view, with the sevens in the Olympics and a World Cup for the 15s game, I can only see it [the women's game] growing.

"A lot of our players are playing in England, so I can only see it moving forward."

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