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Talent-spotter Paul Turner seeking more gems for WRU

Will Rowlands

PAUL Turner hopes the work he has done in identifying rough diamonds in England will pay dividends for Wayne Pivac’s Wales.

Pivac raised eyebrows when he named English-based duo Nick Tompkins and Will Rowlands in his Six Nations squad.

Their selections may have come as a shock to many people, but not to Turner who plays a pivotal role in bringing such players to the attention of the Welsh Rugby Union.

“I’ve been involved in the Exiles programme for five years,” Turner, above, told The Rugby Paper. “It gives names forward to the WRU and it’s then down to the incumbent Welsh coaches on whether they bring them through the system or not.

“Wayne has had some good information and brought the likes of Nick and Will in. We are only doing what the other home nations have been doing for quite a while.”

Turner, head coach of  Ampthill, plays a vital role in uncovering Welsh qualified players over the Severn Bridge who would have otherwise slipped the net.

Wales’ low numerical playing base – which is significantly less than England and Ireland – means Turner knows it’s vital the country utilises the Exiles programme to its maximum.

Pivac is keen to continue to look to England to further develop the national side and it means Turner will remain a key figure in Welsh rugby’s bid for success.

He said: “We haven’t got the playing numbers of some of the bigger countries so we have to use every method available. Guys like Tompkins and Rowlands have been on our radar for a while, but in the past coaches chose not to go for them.

“There will be players still out there, mainly in England, that would or could be available to Wales. It’s a big part of regional recruitment.

“The Welsh Exiles programme has gone from strength to strength. There is a lot of untapped potential.

“The core of it is around the west country all the way up to Gloucester and a lot of Welsh kids go over the border to go to universities.

“We get players to the halfway line and then it’s up to the WRU and regions to get them over the try line.”

STEFFAN THOMAS

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