SALAH AND CO PILE ON THE AGONY FOR BLUEBIRDS
...BUT PROP STAR TOMAS WILL STILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR WALES
TOMAS Francis will stay at Exeter Chiefs and also continue to play for Wales next season. Tighthead prop Francis is out of contract at Sandy Park at the end of the current campaign and it had been widely accepted he would join one of Wales’ four regions after next year’s World Cup.
Francis, 26, has 33 caps for Wales and falls well short of the 60 caps needed to play club rugby outside of Wales and also still star at international level.
With that in mind, it was expected he would join a Welsh side in a bid to continue playing Test rugby. Howev- er, it is now understood that Francis will take up the offer of a second contract extension at Exeter – one which the WRU say formed part of his original deal – and stay with Rob Baxter’s men.
It means he won’t be heading back over the Severn Bridge.
Francis joined Exeter from London Scottish in 2014. He won his first Wales cap against Ireland in August 2015.
In July 2016 he took up the offer of a contract extension with Exeter, but the fact he is set to sign another option with the Chiefs rather makes a mockery of the WRU’s 60-cap rule.
Asked about the future of Francis, Exeter director of rugby Baxter remained coy.
He said: “We are in an ongoing process of talking with all of our front-line players who are off contract at the end of the season.
“You always want to have a couple of decent tighthead props on your books, don’t you?
“If you can keep hold of players like that then that’s half the battle sometimes.”
Francis has been keen to stay at Exeter – unsurprisingly so given their recent success – and this deal is a perfect fit for the player who can also now remain part of Wales’ set-up for the long term. PRO14 action: See Sport on Sunday
Exeter and Wales prop Tomas Francis