Ospreys' Alun Wyn Jones: French move is tempting
ALUN Wyn Jones has urged the Ospreys to make it as tough as possible for him to quit the Liberty and head for France at the end of the season.
Skipper of the former Pro12 champions for the past four years, the 28-year-old gave the clearest indication yet that he might be tempted by the treble-your-money deals that are on offer in the Top 14.
It would be a body blow to the Ospreys if they lost Jones, the heartbeat of their squad.
But they are waiting to discover the competition structure for next season and have also yet to decide, in conjunction with the other regions, whether to accept the Welsh Rugby Union's strings-attached offer of financial assistance.
The governing body have set aside £1 million to help the regions but its release depends on the four signing a new participation agreement and agreeing to several other conditions.
And all the while the country's best players are being targeted by some of European rugby's biggest spenders.
Asked would he be playing in the French championship next season, Jones said: "I probably could, although whether I want to is another question. Is it up to me? Yes and no.
"If I could and it was the best fit for me I would. I have been pretty frank in my discussions that that decision has got to be made as difficult as possible for me to go rather than an easy one, if that makes sense.
"Player management and longevity are things I potentially may not get if I were to go but if it came down to it and was double the wage or treble the wage, I'm not going to be stupid enough to turn that down. You can't. It is a case of what is best for me in the future, rather than a snatch and grab money-wise."
As well as the Lions captain, the Ospreys also have Adam Jones and Ian Evans out of contract in the summer, while Jonathan Davies becomes a free agent at the Scarlets and Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton are in the same position at the Blues.
All of which will need to be put to one side when the Heineken Cup starts this weekend, with the Ospreys hosting Leinster at the Liberty in arguably the match of the weekend.
The Irishmen have injury issues, with Lote Tuqiri ruled out by a hamstring problem and hooker Richardt Strauss facing a prolonged absence from the game because of a heart condition that requires surgery.
Brian O'Driscoll, who has a calf strain, is rated 50-50, but the Ospreys are still wary of Leinster's backs.
"They have a really good back line," said backs coach Gruff Rees.
"When they get quick ball and start moving you around you can end up chasing shadows.
"We have to be mindful about how we defend and how physical we are in the tackle contest.
"We need to be smart and defend as a team rather than as individuals."
The Ospreys hope Ryan Jones will have recovered from his lower-leg injury to be available for a game they have to win.