Soon to be out of contract second row Alun-Wyn Jones could well become the next player to exit the Ospreys at the end of this season, as French Top 14 club Clermont Auvergne are thought to be interested in signing the Swansea born player.
Clermont have already announced that Wales and Ospreys’ fullback Lee Byrne is set to join their outfit at the end of this campaign. As well as that former Osprey Gavin Henson also signed for the current French Champions midway through this season having previously left the Liberty Stadium side to join Saracens earlier this year.
Elsewhere Wales international James Hook, who has struggled to find a position at the Welsh region in recent seasons, announced that he will also be packing his bags as he also crosses the Channel to join up with Perpignan in time for next season.
Jones, who was born and educated in Swansea, has played his entire career to date in Swansea, both for the Ospreys and Swansea RFC before that, admitted that he has a number of options as he looks to his future. The 25 year old Swansea University graduate said “I am in talks with the Ospreys but there has been interest from France” while he stated that the Ospreys offer was made “the week before the Magners League final last year, but that wasn’t the best time [for him] to sit down and make decisions.”
Jones’ departure would be a massive blow not only to the Ospreys but also to Warren Gatland. The Wales manager has strived where possible to select Welsh based players, and less than a year before the Rugby World Cup the national team manager could have a selection headache.
In recent weeks Gatland has selected both Andy Powell and Dwayne Peel, who play for London Wasps and Sale Sharks respectively, however if he were to continue to select Byrne, Hook, and Jones if he does leave, it would send a very obvious message to the other members of the Wales squad.
With the season progressing fast and the time when players announce their intentions for next season, Jones may well have to make a decision sooner rather than later as to whether he will be plying his trade in South Wales or in central France, or possibly somewhere else again.