Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John

WRU turn attention to WillGriff John after being passed over by Tomas Francis

WALES’ four regions have been put on red alert over the potential availability of Sale’s powerhouse prop WillGriff John.

Named in Wayne Pivac’s squad for the 2020 Six Nations, John was set to make his Welsh debut against Scotland in March before the coronavirus pandemic led to the game’s cancellation.

It means his international bow will have to wait until the autumn and, for now, John is concentrating solely on a bid for Premiership glory with Steve Diamond’s Sharks.

John – like his Sale team-mates – agreed a permanent wage cut of 25 per cent in June, but is not contracted to the English club long term.

“The salary cut was agreed upon, but I didn’t sign an extension. I’m out of contract in July next year. It is going to be quite a tough decision to make,” John, 27, told The Rugby Paper.

“I wanted to see out my contract and see what happens because I’ve had so much going on with lockdown and I’ve just had a little boy as well.

“Whatever happens there will be a lot of options to consider and it won’t be an easy decision.

“It will take a fair bit of planning and thought over what’s best for me and my family.

“By then and hopefully in the next few months I’ll have got my cap and the aim is to get more.”

John is highly likely to play for Wales over the next 12 months in what will be a jam-packed international schedule.

In a year’s time he will then have to join one of Wales’ four regions if he wants to continue to play international rugby for Pivac’s side.

The WRU’s insist any Welshman must have more than 60 caps to continue at Test level if they play outside Wales. 

John is settled for now in Manchester with his partner Esyllt and new son Macs. He admits a move back to Wales would suit Esyllt as she is trained as a Welsh teacher.

Wasps flanker Thomas Young
Exiled: Wasps flanker Thomas Young is unavailable to play for Wales due to WRU selection policy. Getty Images

John also admits he feels sorry for fellow Welshman and Wasps flanker Thomas Young who is now unavailable for Wales under the 60-cap ruling.

“I grew up playing with Thomas,” said John, who is entering his peak years as a prop after a roundabout route to the top via a spell in New Zealand.

“If he wanted to stay with Wasps then fair enough, but the fact he didn’t have any offers in Wales makes it not unfair, but tough. He didn’t really have a choice.

“Perhaps as I get older it would be nice to return to Wales at some point in the future, but when that will be I don’t really know.”

On his first experience of the Wales camp earlier this year, John added: “I was gutted and disappointed to be 24 hours away from winning my first cap.

“The one thing which stood out for me from day one was the intensity in training.

“I’d never been in that environment before and it was a bit of a shock. It was a big eye opener in terms of what it takes to be an international player.

“Even though I was disappointed, maybe there was a blessing to the fact I didn’t play. I did find it very hard in the first week fitness wise.

“The feedback was I needed to be fitter so if I do get picked for the next training squad, I’ll be able to start it in a better place.”


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