Alun Wyn Jones: Ospreys hopeful of keeping Wales captain

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Alun Wyn Jones: 'Off-field rugby in Wales isn't the prettiest'

Ospreys are confident of keeping Alun Wyn Jones at the region, according to head coach Allen Clarke.

Wales captain Jones, 33, spoke out about off-field troubles in Welsh rugby following last Saturday's Six Nations win over England, which kept their Grand Slam hopes alive.

But Clarke is hopeful that Jones, whose contract expires later this year, will agree a new Ospreys deal.

"He is a talisman of the club, there's no doubt about that," Clarke said.

Jones talked in the wake of the England victory of "a lot of on-goings off the field at the minute in Wales which probably aren't the prettiest".

The Welsh Rugby Union have been in discussions with the four regions - Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and the WRU-owned Dragons - over the long-term future of the game in Wales.

Representatives from each party sit on the newly-created Professional Rugby Board, with talks going on since the autumn about what has been dubbed "Project Reset".

There was speculation about the Ospreys' future existence last week, with managing director Andrew Millward stating over the weekend that the region had come through the worst week in their history.

Clarke, who has been in charge of Ospreys since January last year, admits members of his squad have asked him about the situation - but says no player has yet left because of off-field uncertainty.

"I have been honest and I think that's the only way to be," he said.

Allen Clarke
Allen Clarke succeeded Steve Tandy at Ospreys' helm in January 2018

"You deal with it as you would want your own son spoken to. You deliver with honesty but you also have sympathy and you explain what's important now.

"Ultimately, if a player loses patience, he has the right to move on. That's the risk you take, but we haven't been confronted with that situation I am glad to say.

"As a rugby player you can only be judged on your performance, on the training field, in the gym and ultimately on the pitch in the contest. Other than that, bureaucracy will look after itself."

Clarke says Ospreys now know their budget for next season and are "well down the road" in terms of planning for the 2019-20 campaign.

The former Ireland hooker's immediate focus is on trying to reach this season's Guinness Pro14 play-offs - and acknowledges Saturday's trip to Connacht is a must-win game.

"I think about everybody's future every day," Clarke added.

"As a coach you never go too far beyond yourself because you know you are in a results business.

"Whether you are on a three-year contract or a one-year contract, it's really about the here and now.

"We are in a situation where to stay in contention for the knockouts at the end of the season, we need a big performance on Saturday."