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Jones: Ospreys was safer option

Wales star Alun-Wyn Jones has described his decision to remain an Ospreys player until at least after World Cup 2015 as "the best fit".

Lock Jones, British and Irish Lions captain for the third Test decider against Australia last summer, was offered a Welsh Rugby Union central contract and had been targeted by big-spending French clubs.

Wales skipper Sam Warburton recently signed a three-year WRU deal that will take effect from next season, while speculation is rife that prop Adam Jones and centre Scott Williams could follow suit.

Jones, though, is remaining with the Ospreys after taking a regional contract route rather than central one, which still amounts to a huge boost for Welsh rugby given the current back-drop of political unrest between the WRU and Wales' four professional regions.

"It has been a delicate time, but the reaction has been encouraging," 74 times-capped Jones said.

"It's what I see as the best fit for me at this point. I can't really fault the reaction from anyone.

"When I spoke with Steve Tandy (head coach) and Andrew Hore (chief executive) at the Ospreys, I told them to just make it a difficult decision for me in terms of the complete package. I told them if they made it as difficult as possible for me I would be happy.

"I know that is creating pain for myself, but I didn't want it to be a simple decision based on a club offering X amount of money and I would go there. That wasn't the sole motivation.

"It was the complete package. I asked the Ospreys to do that and they were able to do that. It was a competitive proposition they put towards me, and I see fit for myself to be there."

Despite turning down the WRU's contract offer - a decision Jones admitted was "very difficult" - he has been encouraged by the subsequent response.

"I want to stress that my decision was welcomed by the union," he added.

"I met Roger Lewis (WRU group chief executive) after it was announced, and he congratulated me and said it was good I was staying in Wales.

"The big thing was that I need to be playing rugby to be selected and that was the decision I made. Had there been an agreement where I knew I would definitely have been in the Ospreys (under a central contract) it would have been more difficult for me to choose.

"I am guaranteed rugby with the Ospreys. Admittedly, I don't know which competition I am going to be playing in, but the way the situation is at the minute if I had signed a central contract I wasn't guaranteed rugby and I didn't know what competition I was playing in.

"You could say I've gone with the safer option. I haven't tried to be controversial.

"I made it (the decision) myself and it wasn't forced upon me. I didn't make it because certain players were leaving and I didn't want to go because players had gone. I have made a decision and for the near future I'm happy where I am.

"I don't want it to come across as I had wished I had signed a central contract.

"It would have been advantageous to me from a game-management and physiological point of view, with fewer games, more training, better access, lower numbers-ratio to coaches etc. But, ultimately, potentially I wouldn't be playing rugby."

Jones, meanwhile, is favourite to captain Wales in next Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Millennium Stadium visitors Italy if Warburton does not make the starting line-up.

The Cardiff Blues flanker has not played for two months because of a shoulder injury, although his return to action is expected either next weekend or seven days later when Wales tackle Ireland in Dublin.

Wales coach Warren Gatland is due to announce his starting XV on Tuesday.


From Belfast Telegraph