Wales national team players are struggling to play at their best at the Six Nations championship amid their ongoing dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) over future contracts, No. 8 Taulupe Faletau said.
Wales players had threatened not to play against England last month to protest contract and other issues, but the strike was averted and the game went ahead as scheduled, with Wales suffering their third successive defeat at the tournament.
Wales are at the bottom of the Six Nations standings without a point. They play away against fellow strugglers Italy on Saturday.
“It is just unfortunate, and the situation we are all in at the moment is not great for anyone involved,” Faletau told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s just a tough time we are stuck in at the moment.”
Welsh rugby remains challenged by financial problems as a deal between the governing WRU, Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets has yet to be agreed upon.
Those professional regions are facing major funding cuts that could lead to heavily-reduced contract offers for many players whose deals expire at the end of the season, while an exodus of players to clubs abroad is also a possibility.
“You are always going to try to put your best foot forward, but when things aren’t going well off the pitch it’s hard to give your all then,” Faletau said.