WALES forwards coach Robin McBryde has admitted he has sympathies with the Ospreys over Ryan Bevington's non-release for Pro12 duty this weekend.
Wales have opted to keep Bevington in camp to cover for potential injuries to props Gethin Jenkins (Toulon) and Paul James (Bath), who have both returned to their clubs — as per International Rugby Board regulations.
Bevington turned in a stunning individual display for the Ospreys last weekend, capped by a 40-metre try that sealed an against-the-odds triumph for the defending Pro12 champions.
Rob Howley's decision to keep the 24-year-old loose-head under wraps has prompted Ospreys chief operations officer Andrew Hore to speak out about the problems facing Welsh regions during this period.
And McBryde has admitted the Ospreys are paying the price for their ability to produce so many top-level front-rowers.
"I have sympathy with the Ospreys, and I spoke on Wednesday night with Andrew Millward and Mefin Davies with regards to the amount of work they do in specialising with front-five players," he said.
"It is a feather in their caps and the other regions need to look at what they can do better. But unfortunately the top players end up playing international rugby.
"We needed to make sure we have enough able bodies to prepare for Italy," he added.
"Because Gethin Jenkins and Paul James have had to go back to their respective clubs it would have left us one short in the front row. He has paid a bit of a price for that.
"We know about Ryan's capabilities and it is good to have him around."
The Ospreys travelled to Galway yesterday ahead of their clash with Connacht without eight front-rowers — Bevington, Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard with the Wales senior squad, Nicky Thomas, Nicky Smith and Dan Suter with Wales Under-20s and the injured Aaron Jarvis and Joe Rees.
"It does make life very difficult," admitted Hore.
"You are paying wages for players who can be away for up to a third of the season, and then you have to find additional wages for the players who are standing in for the absent internationals.
"At a time when money in the regional game is increasingly tight it does have an impact on competitiveness. You can't escape that fact.
"To further complicate matters, Ryan Bevington isn't being released. Wales don't want to risk Ryan as one of these guys may pick up an injury this weekend and they understandably want to ensure they have cover next week.
"We totally understand that, but it does stretch us even further and is a real example of the issues that get thrown up when players leave Wales to play outside of our borders.
"Development from within is at the very heart of everything we do, but when you look at it objectively, there does need to be some kind of reward and reimbursement for when the players you have brought through gain international recognition. We've increased our investment into the development pathway by 600 per cent, but we can't do this alone."
Meanwhile, McBryde has admitted work needs to be done to improve the Welsh scrum after the set-piece struggles against France last weekend.
"We have been very disappointed with our scrum performances in the first two matches," he said. "You can look at contributing factors like the Paris pitch, but it is the same for both teams.
"We are not controlling everything to the best of our ability and that is one area we need to focus on and put right."