Bath Rugby to make a move for Toby Faletau
TOBY Faletau is the latest big-name Wales player to figure on the radar of Europe's moneyed clubs, with Bath heading the queue for his services.
The West Country outfit are believed to have tried to tempt the Dragons with a six-figure transfer fee for one of Welsh rugby's most prized jewels.
Faletau, who is expected to face the Ospreys in the Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade on New Year's Eve, has been consistently outstanding since stepping up to the regional scene as a teenager.
While his region have struggled, he has sparkled, posing problems for opposition defences with his athleticism, work-rate and ability to crash over the gain-line.
The 22-year-old renewed his contract with the Dragons after returning from the 2011 World Cup, signing fresh terms to stay at the region until 2014.
When the deal was sealed Wales's most easterly professional set-up revealed there had been "worldwide interest" in the Tonga-born player.
His displays since have only boosted his stock further, with a number of French and English clubs on his trail, but Bath, who signed Paul James from the Ospreys in the summer, appear to have upped the ante by revealing the colour of their money.
Their apparent interest in Faletau comes amid suggestions that the Dragons could be scaled down to a development operation in the not-too-distant future.
Dan Lydiate has served notice on them that he is departing in the summer and just days ago the region's director of rugby appealed to the new Professional Regional Game Board for help over Faletau.
"Toby like Dan and any other talented young player will be targeted by other clubs that have more resource in terms of finance available," said Dragons director of rugby Robert Beale.
"You're competing against teams who have huge budgets.
"I'm not suggesting that we go to those sorts of levels, but…if regional rugby and the four regions are to compete seriously in Europe then we need to increase levels of funding from wherever avenue they may come."