1:29pm Tuesday 18th February 2014
WALES fly-half Rhys has turned down overtures from England – and the Welsh Rugby Union – to pen a new deal with the Scarlets.
The 26-year-old has followed international teammate Scott Williams in agreeing a fresh contract with the west Walians.
Priestland, who is set to win his 28th cap against France in the Six Nations at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, had been linked with Aviva Premiership clubs London Wasps, Leicester and Gloucester.
He was also one of six players – along with Williams, Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Adam Jones – that the WRU wanted to centrally contract.
Toulon’s bumper deal was too much for Halfpenny to turn down and Warburton took the Union up on their offer but Priestland, like Williams and Alun Wyn Jones, has stuck with his region.
The fly-half said: "As Scarlets we want to push on next season, we have some exciting players to make that happen and drive us forward and I want to be part of a team that takes that ambition and helps makes it become a reality for our region.”
He continued: "The Scarlets is where I've developed as a rugby player and have been supported since I first started playing – with some good coaches and experienced senior players helping me in my career.
"It's important to me to continue my commitment to a great rugby community, environment and team that I am proud to be a part of.
“We have a very strong team ethic at the Scarlets, we're a tight group. It's good to belong to an environment that means a lot to me as an individual and has a real heritage and tradition as well.
“I'm pleased to have this all decided now, so I can focus on our Six Nations rugby campaign before returning back to the Scarlets for what should be an exciting finish to the league season.”
Head coach Simon Easterby hailed an important signing for the region.
"Rhys has become one of our most experienced players and has a lot to contribute to the region on and off the field,” he said.
“He's a key figure in our squad, an intelligent rugby player who thinks quickly, reads a game well.
"A lot has been said about how to retain our best players in Wales and while market forces can be difficult to battle at times, there is another dimension to this discussion and that's about creating a regional rugby environment and culture that engenders loyalty, motivation and drive in players with the support to succeed.”
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