Jones ponders France move
British & Irish Lions prop Adam Jones is considering turning his back on the Ospreys and taking up a contract in France at the end of the season.
Jones’ Wales team-mates Luke Charteris and Gethin Jenkins have both been linked with moves across the channel, and according to reports, both are on the verge of following James Hook to Perpignan. The news will come as a blow to Wales boss Warren Gatland who has maintained that he will focus on those playing in Wales rather than those overseas, but he may be forced to change his policy with more of his stars becoming increasingly tempted by the money on offer in the Top 14. And Jones believes a move to France will only improve his game.
“I have had no offers set in stone but would be happy to go there,” Jones told Wales Online. “I am out of contract next June so I have some decisions to make. Gethin and Luke are in the same situation. Internationals are often labelled as money-grabbers if they move but that is not the case.
“But if you look at someone like Luke or Gethin, now they could set themselves up for life by going for France. There is no point pussy footing around and saying definitely you want to stay with the region.
“If they have to do something that is financially right then they have to go. It is the world we live in. If the region are not going to offer you a new contract or the type of money on offer elsewhere, you might have to go.
“There is not the money in Wales at the moment to keep all those players. The regions have to balance their books so it is a tough situation for everyone. People know how tough things economically are at the moment.
“It is not a bad standard of rugby in France and there are plusses and minuses of going there. I don’t think Warren or the WRU are going to worry too much if two of his front five forwards are playing in France because it will only benefit Wales.
“And you are not going to tell me that Warren is going to drop Mike Phillips because he is playing in France.”
But Jones admitted it would be an emotional moment if he was to turn his back on the Ospreys. “Playing for the Ospreys means everything to me and I can see how it has grown,” he said. “I have been here from the start after beginning with Neath Under-21s.
“It is a great place to play rugby and has their hearts in the right place.”
Ospreys coach Sean Holley is adamant he wants to keep Jones at the Liberty Stadium but admits financial limitations may prevent them from competing with offers from across the channel. “From a coaching point of view I want Adam to play at the Ospreys,” Holley said. “Quality tight-heads are at a premium, but it isn’t just that.
“It’s the status he has, coming from this region. But clearly market forces prevail and we can’t compete, particularly when you get an average crowd of 6,000 at home to add to your funding.
“It’s very difficult for us to compete, as was shown with James Hook. I clearly hope something happens because as a coaching team we want Adam here. It’s very difficult to justify spending that money.
“There are international windows three times a year, in the autumn, the Six Nations and the summer. If you add a Lions tour and a World Cup it’s very hard to justify, so you can see what we are dealing with here.
“I notice some of the other regions are banging on about it now. I can tell you now we’ve experienced it for the past five or six years. For us it has to be a balance. And from a coaching point of view, I think in Adam’s case it would be a good balance.
“Because of the position he plays in and the ability he has – tight-heads like that are at a premium. As we saw in the Heineken Cup this week it has a big say in the game. So I can only reiterate as a coaching team that we want Adam here.”