Money the motivator

Lions full back Lee Byrne admits money is playing a big part in a Welsh player exodus. [more]

Money the motivator

Lions full back Lee Byrne admits money is playing a big part in a Welsh player exodus.

Byrne is one of three Wales and Lions stars currently plying their trade in France, with a whole host of other big names set to follow this summer.

The 2009 Test Lion left the Ospreys for Clermont Auvergne, while James Hook joined Perpignan and Mike Phillips headed to Bayonne at the end of last season.

Gethin Jenkins appears set to move to Toulon, Luke Charteris is destined to join Hook at the Stade Aime Giral, Huw Bennett has been linked with Lyon and Aled Brew looks likely to be a Biarritz player next term.

And while the increasingly competitive standard of the Top 14 and the high crowd attendances at the Stade Marcel Michelin played their part in Byrne’s own switch across the Channel, the 30-year-old is honest enough to state that a huge gulf in wages was the major incentive.   

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"At the end of the day, if I'm honest, a lot of it is down to money," Byrne told BBC Wales.

"People also want to play abroad, but it's a short career and if someone gets offered a higher paid job – and it's also in a high level league – why wouldn't you take it?

"There's a salary cap coming at home, people have families, and it’s a short career – you have to make the most of it.

"The cultural things add up, but it's mainly down to the money. It’s probably double the money in France that you could earn at home in Wales.

"If someone was offered double the money in a nine-to-five job, then they would go. It's a no-brainer, really."

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