Nine Wales Women players have been handed retainer contracts and have joined the WRU’s performance programme.
Gwen Crabb, Georgia Evans, Kat Evans, Cerys Hale, Abbie Fleming and Bethan Lewis in the forwards, as well as Kerin Lake, Caitlin Lewis, Niamh Terry in the backs have all received part-time contracts.
This news comes after 12 players were handed full-time contracts last week and those on retainer contracts will join them in training between one and three days a week.
There will be another announcement in the coming weeks with potentially as many as six more players due to be given retainer contracts.
Head coach Ioan Cunningham explained how tough the fight for the full-time contracts.
He said: “These players are a vital addition to our performance programme. Some of them were very close to being offered full-time contracts.
“They all made a huge contribution to our autumn campaign, both on the pitch and in the training environment so are all deserving of this chance.
“Ultimately, the retainer contracts provide an opportunity to have more contact time with more players which will be a huge positive.
“It gives the players the ability to learn more about the game, to complete more training sessions, improve their strength and fitness along with other areas that will contribute towards the team’s performance.
“We feel we have the right model in the interests of our programme while enabling players on retainer contracts to meet their work commitments. It’s an opportunity for players to develop individually while challenging each other.”
The announcement also comes as Wales Women and Allianz Premier 15s clubs continue to work together with contracted players now training with the national set-up rather than their domestic teams.
He added: “We are pleased with the relationships we are building with the Allianz Premier 15s clubs, we are managing their training and playing plans with player welfare front of mind for all of us.”
Cunningham also made it clear that there are still further opportunities for more players to earn retainer contracts in the coming weeks.
“There are two training camps in the next few weeks, so the opportunity is certainly there for other players to impress and earn a Retainer Contract,” said Cunningham.
“There are players we want to see in our environment and these camps will enable us to do that.”