Fotuali'i to face 'hardest decision of his rugby life'
KAHN Fotuali'i is set to make "one of the biggest decisions of his life" with the Ospreys insisting they have done all they can to keep him at the Liberty Stadium.
The most wanted player in European rugby is being targeted by a pack of clubs willing to make him worth his weight in gold.
He is on a week off from the Ospreys and there was speculation yesterday that he had committed to Northampton Saints, but neither the English club nor Fotuali'i himself had been in touch with the region last night.
Toulouse, Munster, Bath, Saracens, Montpellier and Racing Metro have also been linked to the former Crusader, but the Ospreys have put together a tempting package and are expecting an answer one way or another from the Samoan imminently.
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"We've done our damnedest to keep him here," said assistant coach Gruff Rees.
"We can knock the finances and budget that we have, but I know Steve Tandy has been working closely with our directors because Kahn is a player we are desperate to keep as a coaching team.
"I had a good chat with him on the plane coming back from Treviso last Sunday and I know a decision is probably impending but I don't know what it is.
"But I do know Kahn has really bought in to what we are trying to do at the Ospreys. He enjoys it here, he's been a big part of what we have achieved over the past year and how we have developed and grown this group.
"The vibe I get from him is that whatever decision he makes it will be one of the hardest he has had to make. Hopefully, we can find out more because as a coaching group we want to plan, either with or without him."
Asked did he believe Fotuali'i had signed for another club, Rees added: "Not to my knowledge. He has some time off. Hopefully his decision will be made over this week or so.
"There has been an offer from ourselves for Kahn to stay, so in that sense the ball is in his court. It's a difficult decision either way."
Fotuali'i arrived at the Ospreys largely unheralded despite his stint playing for the Crusaders alongside Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.
He took time to settle in his Welsh surroundings but this season he has been a revelation, winning a string of man-of-the-match awards and inspiring the Pro12 champions with his inventive, unpredictable play.
The Ospreys have acknowledged that many of the clubs pursuing the islander have budgets that dwarf their own.
But they nonetheless sent Fotuali'i on his week's break hopeful that the deal they have put together, backed by his enjoyment of life at the region, might yet chase away the wolves.
He will be absent this weekend when the region take on the Dragons in the LV= Cup at Rodney Parade, Rhys Webb expected to get the nod at scrum-half.
The match on Saturday will be a test for the youngsters, at a ground where the Ospreys have traditionally found the going tough.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how this group cope with the Rodney Parade atmosphere and environment," added Rees.
"Even though the competition has changed, I expect the same friendly, vociferous welcome from the Rodney Parade crowd.
"I'm looking forward to seeing some of our boys man-up in that atmosphere, as a lot of our senior group did on New Year's Eve. That was a rewarding night for us. And we'll measure these boys by the same standards."
The Ospreys won 14-3 at Rodney Parade on the final day of last year, just the second time they have won in Newport since the inception of regional rugby.