Wyn Jones commits to Ospreys
London - Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones has bucked the recent trend of top players signing for overseas clubs by announcing Friday he has signed a deal that will keep him with the Ospreys until after the 2015 World Cup.
The 28-year-old's decision came just a day after Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny confirmed he was moving to France to join European champions Toulon.
The greater financial strength of French clubs allied to a bitter row between the Welsh Rugby Union and the four professional regional teams over the future of the club game in Wales have combined to make the Top 14 an attractive destination for several Test players.
Six Nations champions Wales, who begin the defence of their title next week, already have several players attached to French clubs in Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts, Dan Lydiate and James Hook, with Halfpenny, centre Jonathan Davies and lock Ian Evans set to follow in their footsteps later this year.
But the 74-times capped Jones, who captained the British and Irish Lions in their series-clinching win over Australia in Sydney last year, had no qualms in staying at the Swansea-based Ospreys despite offers to leave.
"I am very happy to be able to resolve my future, which means I can now concentrate solely on my rugby," said Jones, who made his Wales debut as a 19-year-old.
"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," explained the second row, a key figure in Wales's 2008 and 2012 Six Nations Grand Slams and last season's retention of the Championship title.
"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," added Jones, who could captain Wales in their Six Nations opener against Italy in Cardiff next week if regular skipper Sam Warburton fails to overcomes a shoulder injury.
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis was understandably elated by Jones' decision.
"This is great news for the Ospreys and great news for Welsh rugby, we are delighted that a player of Alun Wyn Jones's ability and stature in the world game has decided to commit his immediate future to his Region and to Wales," said Lewis.
"This is a significant signing and, importantly, it meets with the Welsh Rugby Union's stated objectives of keeping Welsh qualified players in Wales.
"Indeed, under the WRU's proposed rugby services agreement, which is currently being reviewed by the Regions, the Ospreys will be significantly rewarded for retaining a Welsh qualified player.
Lewis added: "Alun Wyn is a player of international repute, but he is also a proud Welshman and the decision he has made will, today, be welcomed by a nation which is equally proud of him."