Jones pens new Ospreys deal

Andover Advertiser: Alun-Wyn Jones has agreed new terms with the Ospreys Alun-Wyn Jones has agreed new terms with the Ospreys

Wales star Alun-Wyn Jones has revealed that "being in the right environment" was a key factor in determining his immediate rugby future.

Jones has resisted the temptation to move abroad by agreeing a new Ospreys deal that will keep him at the Swansea-based region until after the 2015 World Cup.

It is a huge boost for Welsh rugby, given the back-drop of political unrest between Wales' four professional regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

And 28-year-old lock Jones' decision bucks the recent trend of top players quitting the Welsh domestic game, coming less than 24 hours after reigning European champions Toulon announced a lucrative contract for Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

Several of Jones' Wales colleagues, including Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and James Hook, already play in France, while Halfpenny, centre Jonathan Davies and lock Ian Evans will join the exodus later this year.

But 74 times-capped Jones, a mainstay of the Wales team who captained the British and Irish Lions in their Test series-clinching victory over Australia in Sydney last summer, is staying put.

"I am very happy to be able to resolve my future, which means I can now concentrate solely on my rugby," he said.

"It's flattering to have received offers from elsewhere, but at this point in my career my focus is on being in the right environment to ensure the longevity of both my domestic and international career.

"It's important to me that I am playing the right level of rugby to ensure I am at my best, which is why it makes sense for me to accept the offer on the table from the Ospreys."

Jones is favourite to captain Wales in next week's RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy if squad skipper Sam Warburton does not return from a shoulder injury.

Jones made his Ospreys debut in 2005, he is their current captain and he was a key figure on the last two Lions tours, featuring in all six Test matches against South Africa and Australia.

Ospreys operations manager Andy Lloyd added: "It will give everybody involved with the region - players, coaches, staff, commercial partners and supporters - a huge boost.

"Alun-Wyn has been, and continues to be, a fantastic servant to this region and is a true role model to those around him.

"A natural leader, he demands the highest standards of himself and everybody in this environment, and it will be a better place with him around in the coming seasons.

"Given the uncertainty that still surrounds the game in Wales in general, we've given Alun-Wyn reassurances regarding his future options, but it is fantastic news that he is staying at the Liberty Stadium."

Halfpenny's exit from Cardiff Blues, which will take effect at the end of this season, was accompanied by powerful remarks from Blues chief executive Richard Holland that vividly reflect Welsh rugby's current toxic political climate.

Critical areas such as revenue and competition structure remain unresolved amid uncertainty surrounding next season's Heineken Cup.

Holland is due to attend a media briefing alongside Blues chairman Peter Thomas on Friday in the wake of Halfpenny's departure.

Speaking on Thursday, Holland said: "Retaining Leigh has been one of our highest priorities. We have done all we can in our power as a region and business to try and facilitate that.

"His outstanding performances for Blues, Wales and the Lions have made him one of the most prized players in world rugby.

"We put our very best offer on the table, but he has been the target of a major European club with significant resources that we simply cannot compete with at this current time.

"Given the current uncertainty over the competitions the regions are playing in next season and revenues attached to that, it is understandable why players are looking elsewhere.

"The threat to Welsh rugby and our ability to keep top players in Wales is highlighted by the fact the French game is underpinned by broadcast revenues that dwarf anything we receive from our domestic league.

"We need to be able to compete and have meaningful competitions that will increase funding into Welsh rugby. The future of the game in Wales must be sorted out now - this situation simply cannot be allowed to continue."

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