With the controversial 60-man rule now reduced to 25, the prospect of an exodus of players from Wales became a reality.

While there are fewer opportunities for Welsh players in England and France compared to previous years, there are many players from outside the country who are attracting interest.

WalesOnline looks at the transfer stories that could come to fruition in the coming weeks and months.

RECORD: Get the latest exclusive rugby stories and headlines straight to your inbox for free with our daily newsletter

Ross Moriarty

WalesOnline broke the news yesterday that Dragons striker Ross Moriarty was on the verge of leaving Welsh rugby.

French club Bayonne are the main candidates for his signing, while former European champions Exeter Chiefs are also on the list.

The Dragons would like to retain the Welsh star, who has earned 54 caps, but clubs in France can easily top the £278,000 a year the Welsh club can offer him.

Moriarty has been a major absence from Warren Gatland’s Six Nations squad, which could make the decision to leave Wales easier, especially as he will be eligible for the national team.

We’ve heard that a deal to leave Wales is very close to being finalized and it would be a shock if he doesn’t feature in the Top 14 next season.

dilon lewis

The Welsh international is out of contract at the end of the season and, as WalesOnline reported in December, he has a contract offer from Gloucester.

Given the pay cut, the 60x bill would have given Lewis a reason to stay in the Welsh capital, but with a pay cut of 25 he would still be eligible to leave.

Gloucester are a big club and the prospect of playing in front of big crowds every week is likely to be attractive, as is playing in the league which could improve their performance.

But as players have pointed out, money isn’t everything, and many prefer the comforts of home to moving abroad.

We think it’s in balance.

jose adams

The Cardiff and Wales winger is attracting a lot of interest from clubs across France, and Lyon are willing to do whatever it takes to secure his signature.

Under the current payment model, the Welsh Rugby Union pays 80% of a Wales 38 (NS38) player’s salary, with the region receiving the remaining 20%.

Going forward, regions will have to honor the contracts of NS38 players with no money to pay them, meaning there is very little left to hire others.

This makes the prospect of a move away from a French or Japanese club attractive for a club like Cardiff, especially as they are unlikely to see their Welsh players in the front line next season due to the Rugby World Cup.

However, under a new Wales rugby deal to be signed, the region could lose funding if it allows a “National Interest 60” player to go ahead without making “reasonable efforts” to retain his services.

WalesOnline understands it will be an obstacle for Cardiff to accept Adams’ transfer fee.

That said, Lyon pay big and are putting together a star-studded back line, having already signed Fijian superstar Sami Radradra from Bristol.

But for the reasons stated above, the chances of this happening are probably less than 50%.

liam williams

At 31, Williams could be looking forward to his last payday abroad following Wales’ Rugby World Cup campaign.

Despite being left out of the Welsh squad to face England, the Cardiff defender remains highly respected in world rugby circles.

A few weeks ago, WalesOnline reported that mega-rich Japanese club Kubota Spurs were interested in securing his services.

We’ve since learned they’ve watered down the idea, citing discipline concerns and Williams’ injuries, but there are still other Japanese clubs interested.

A move to Japan is the most lucrative thing a player can do with an influx of world-class players already playing in Japan Rugby League One, so it would certainly attract interest from a player of Williams’ quality.

But he remains signed by Cardiff with the same difficulties as Adams.

We’d say it’s 50/50.

joe hawkins

French newspaper Midi Olympique last week linked the young Welsh center with a move from the Ospreys to the Exeter Chiefs.

But Exeter’s director of rugby, Rob Baxter, has since denied the reports.

“I don’t know where these rumors came from and I don’t know where they started, but here and now there’s no truth to it,” Baxter said.

“It’s a lot of talk and I don’t know where it started.”

Despite wages falling in Wales along with the salary cap law, Hawkins has only played four times for his country, meaning he will be ineligible if he leaves.

It is absolutely not for beginners.

nigel owens

Legendary Welsh referee and Wales Online columnist Nigel Owens is being tapped by the Springboks to join the coaching staff, according to South African media reports.

South Africa want Owens to become their refereeing coach and the Springboks coaching staff have submitted a proposal to the South African Rugby Executive Committee.

Refereeing legend Owens, who was at the center of the 2015 New Zealand-Australia World Cup Final at Twickenham, has turned the whistle off in 2021, taking charge of a record 100 international Tests.

When approached by City Press for comment, Owens said, “I haven’t heard anything, but I would certainly be honored.”

Maybe he’ll respond in his next column!

  • High-level players will leave the Scarlets, but player contracts are finally being offered and contracts will be signed.

  • Wales to lose millions in Six Nations prize money amid dire results

  • Sam Warburton questions Louis Rhys-Zammit’s place in the team and names Wales’ best players at the moment

  • Three unknown Wales players to be considered by Gatland for Six Nations final

  • Ross Moriarty is about to retire from Welsh rugby