The first full-time Wales Women players have been contracted by the Welsh Rugby Union.
Twelve players have accepted full-time contracts – two more than originally announced.
The 12-month contracts came into force this week with players and management based at the National Centre of Excellence.
The dozen include six former Scarlets – Jasmine Joyce, Alisha Butchers, Hannah Jones, Ffion Lewis, Gwenllian Pyrs and Lisa Neumann.
The first full-time players:
Forwards: Alisha Butchers, Natalia John, Siwan Lillicrap, Carys Phillips, Gwenllian Pyrs, Donna Rose.
Backs: Kiera Bevan, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Ffion Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Elinor Snowsill
WRU Performance Director Nigel Walker said: “The historic awarding of 12 full-time contracts will enable all these players to be full-time professionals and have regular, weekly contact with head coach Ioan Cunningham, the rest of the coaches and our expert science and medical team. All of this will make a significant difference to the players’ preparation, fitness and skill sets in order to enable us to challenge the best teams in the world.
“We were so pleased with the quality of the players’ autumn performances that an increase to 12 full-time contracts was agreed, and the coaching team felt that working with 12 players who form the spine of the team would make a big impact. These players will be joined by 15 players on retainer contracts in the coming weeks.”
Wales Women head coach Ioan Cunningham said: “It’s been a tough but enjoyable process. Credit to all the players who have given us selection headaches. We are all now super excited to get the programme started. Talent and ability was the first element in our selection process and then the potential growth of the individual player along with their attitude.
“The conversations offering contracts were nice ones to have if often quite emotional. Some of the players had logistic issues to work through from a personal and professional perspective but it’s great to have them at the National Centre of Excellence now as we start to put the foundations in place for improvement.”