"Significantly Underpaid" - Wales Star Reveals Why He Moved to England Despite International Ineligibility - Ruck

“Significantly Underpaid” – Wales Star Reveals Why He Moved to England Despite International Ineligibility

Breakout Wales star Joe Hawkins has been the latest focus of the WRU’s turbulent contract saga. The 20-year-old has made five international caps, yet decided to leave the Ospreys in favour of a move to Exeter Chiefs.

Hawkins is set to arrive at Sandy Park ahead of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season, but in doing so he has ruled himself out as ineligible to play for Wales at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

This comes as Hawkins has not made the required 25 Wales caps to represent his country whilst based outside of Wales.

Hawkins posted a statement to social media, to clear the air on his current predicament. The exciting young centre highlighted how he will focus on his career, and thanked the fans for all the support.

Hawkins stated how it was a ‘childhood dream’, to represent Wales at the 2023 Guinness Six Nations. The centre was a breakout star of the competition, and started the first four matches for Warren Gatland’s side. Within the heartfelt statement, Hawkins wrote;

“Firstly, it has been a privilege to represent the Ospreys – a club that has developed me from age grade through to senior rugby. The decision to step away from my home region was not taken lightly.”

“Unfortunately, I have been deemed ineligible to play for Wales, and the opportunity to play in the World Cup is no longer a possibility. I wish the boys and staff the best of luck, and I am truly gutted I can’t share this journey with them.”

“I want to acknowledge that by signing for Exeter Chiefs, my first professional contract, I have fully prioritised my rugby career. I have done so with my professional development, personal development and financial security in mind.”

“The turbulent period in Welsh rugby, where there were no contracts on offer in Wales, put all out of contract players under pressure. Witnessing the number of players currently out of a job in Wales has reinforced my decision.”

“Further, while I have spent the last three years playing professional rugby, and later international rugby, I have been held to an academy contract, – being significantly underpaid.”

Controversially, Hawkins would have been eligible to play for Wales, had the centre been internationally uncapped ahead of his move to Exeter Chiefs. Additionally, the circumstances are made even more difficult for Hawkins, as his Wales teammate, Dragons lock Will Rowlands, is eligible despite having just 23 caps, and with an upcoming move planned to Racing 92.

Will Rowlands of Wales during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Rowlands is eligible for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, if he is able to make two additional test match appearances for Wales ahead of the competition. Rowlands has been an integral part of the Welsh pack, and has two World Cup warm-ups against England and a clash with South Africa to make up the numbers in time.

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has stated that the Devonshire club are not at fault for Hawkins’ international omission.

“We don’t take any responsibility because we approached it completely with open arms, with the anticipation that he would play for Wales,” Baxter said.

Rob Baxter, Director of Rugby of Exeter Chiefs speaks to the media during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate on 20 May. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“We felt that we had got everything in place we needed to. We complied with what we were asked to do with the information we had. Obviously Wales feel there’s stuff that doesn’t prove certain dates and times that they wanted.

“We haven’t done anything wrong, we certainly haven’t broken any rules.

5 Players Who Are Serious Doubts for the 2023 Rugby World Cup

With the 2023 Rugby World Cup fast approaching, international stars across the globe are putting their best foots forward to ensure they make the squad for France.

However, untimely injuries and changes to eligibility, sees these five players are serious doubts for rugby’s pinnacle competition.


An honourable mention must go to Ireland’s talisman Johnny Sexton. The 37-year-old suffered a groin injury in Ireland’s 2023 Six Nations crunch match against France, and was side-lined for their following victory over Italy. The fly-half returned to lead his side to Grand Slam glory over England, yet re-aggravated and worsened the injury in the process. Sexton looked doubtful for the Rugby World Cup, as it was announced he would require surgery on the injury.

Sexton’s lifelong Leinster career came to an abrupt end, as the Dubliner was ruled out of the remainder of his side’s United Rugby Championship and Heineken Champions Cup campaigns. However, today Sexton gave Ireland fans positive news of his return, ensuring them that he will be back at some stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Ireland are amongst the favourites to bring the Web Ellis trophy home, and aim to do so for the first time in their history.

Thankfully, Sexton has his sights set on a 2023 Rugby World Cup appearance, but less can unfortunately be said for these five players. Here are five international stars that are looking likley to miss the showdown event in France.

  1. Jonny Gray – Scotland
Jonny Gray of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate on 23 Apr. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The towering lock sees his Rugby World Cup contention hang in the balance, after suffering an unfortunately timed knee injury last Sunday. Gray suffered a dislocated knee, whilst playing for Exeter Chiefs in his side’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle.

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter highlighted how this is a bad scenario for the lock’s Scotland hopes.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 18: Jonny Gray of Scotland is tackled by Ben McCalman of Australia during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match between Australia and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on October 18, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

“It’s relatively serious without being the worst it could be. From what I’ve been told, unless the operation goes exceptionally well and his recovery is exceptionally quick, I would say he is very doubtful for the World Cup”

“It’s a patella tendon injury; he’s dislocated his kneecap.” Baxter added, confirming the extent of the injury.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“Fortunately, the other major ligaments within the knee are all stable,” he said. It’s a relatively complex patella tendon injury, which is going to require surgery this week, and there’s a relatively long period of rehab. We are hopeful to have him back fairly early next season, especially with the Premiership starting late next year with the World Cup first.”