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Dragons demand clarity over Wales player release policy during Six Nations

Dragons boss Dean Ryan has questioned the process of Wales releasing players to the regions.

Ryan was under the impression Wayne Pivac would be retaining all of his home-based squad members in camp for the duration of the Six Nations because of Covid concerns.

But four players have been released to play for other regions this weekend – Scarlets pair Ryan Elias and Jake Ball and Cardiff Blues duo Rhys Carre and Lloyd Williams.

Ryan didn’t get any of his four Wales squad members – Leon Brown, Elliot Dee, Aaron Wainwright and Nick Tompkins – back for Friday night’s PRO14 game at home to Leinster, which the Dragons lost 35-29.

He hadn’t expected to see any of them returning to him, but said he was confused why other regions were given internationals.

Wales’ policy is not to release players seen as key parts of their Six Nations match-day squad.

Prop Brown, hooker Dee, back rower Wainwright and centre Tompkins have all figured in the tournament and are strong contenders to feature in next week’s Triple Crown showdown with England.

In contrast, hooker Elias, lock Ball, prop Carre and scrum-half Williams haven’t been involved so far.

Yet Dragons director of rugby Ryan has still called for clarity over the issue of player release.

“I don’t understand. I was pretty sure everyone was in the Wales camp for the whole of the Wales camp. Then I read the media,” he said.

“I don’t know – you probably know more than me. There were four players – two go to Scarlets and two go to Cardiff.

“I was under the impression they were in the Wales camp for the whole of the Six Nations.”

Ryan revealed he had not asked if his four Wales players could be available.

“I was under the impression it wasn’t an option because they were staying in the camp because of the Covid risk,” he said.

“I definitely want to gain an understanding of what the policy is. I didn’t ask any questions because I was of the understanding they weren’t coming out. It will be on the list.”

Elias and Ball will start for the Scarlets against Treviso this afternoon, with Carre and Williams lining up for the Blues against Connacht out in Galway this evening.

Wales’ English-based players have returned to their clubs for this fallow week in the Six Nations programme.

Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit and Bath back rower Taulupe Faletau both emerged unscathed from Friday night’s west country derby at The Rec, with try scorer Faletau being named Man of the Match.

Lock Will Rowlands (Wasps), fly-half Callum Sheedy (Bristol) and new squad member WillGriff John (Sale) are also in action for their clubs this weekend, but No 10 Dan Biggar and prop Tomas Francis have been rested by Northampton and Exeter respectively.

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