Tomas Francis: Ospreys confirm signing of Wales prop from Exeter

Tomas Francis
Exeter signed Tomas Francis from London Scottish ahead of the 2014-15 season

Ospreys have confirmed the signing of Wales prop Tomas Francis on a three-year contract from English and European champions Exeter.

The 28-year-old will link up with the Welsh region for the 2021-22 season.

Francis has won 52 caps and needed to come back to Wales to continue his international career.

"Signing for the Ospreys will allow me to continue to play for Wales, something I was not willing to give up," said Francis.

The Wales policy states that players with fewer than 60 caps have to play for a Welsh team at the end of their current contract and Francis' Exeter deal ends in the summer of 2021.

"I knew there would be a time when I would have to make a decision on my future," said Francis.

"It's not been easy, in fact, it's been the toughest decision I've had to make in my career.

"I'm still ambitious and keen to keep improving and I see Ospreys as the perfect place to do that."

The York-born prop qualifies for Wales through his grandmother, who hails from Abercrave in the Swansea Valley, which is in the Ospreys region.

Francis made his Wales debut in August 2015 and has been part of two World Cup campaigns and the 2019 Grand Slam triumph.

He was part of the Exeter squad that won the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup double in 2020.

"I spoke to the Welsh regions but was impressed with the vision of head coach Toby Booth and where he wanted to take the Ospreys," said Francis.

"His attention to detail and knowledge of my game and what he and Duncan Jones laid out to me was appealing.

"Toby and the coaches are starting to steer the ship in the right direction. The boys I know in the Wales squad all talked positively about what is happening at the Ospreys and it stood out to me as the region that is going places.

"I know a lot of the boys there from the Wales set-up and the squad has some talented youngsters sprinkled with experience and knowledge. I know there will be competition for the shirt and all players need that."

Francis has played 115 times for Exeter and hopes to help them achieve more success in 2020-21 before he leaves.

"Since the moment I arrived at the Chiefs, it's been an unbelievable journey," added Francis.

"I came here seven years ago as a Championship player and now I'm leaving as a 50+ cap international and with two Premiership and one European title under my belt.

"Both Rob (Baxter) and Rob (Hunter) gave me my opportunity and have helped develop me into the player I am now.

"What we have achieved with the Chiefs, and what I still hope to achieve this season, is something special."

Booth believes bringing in the experience of Francis while continuing to develop their own talent underlines the ambitious vision he has for the Welsh region.

"Signing a current international tighthead prop with a winning history and mentality will help the Ospreys make the steps we need to make and fuel the ambition now and for the long-term future," he said.

"Tom's decision to join us is a great sign of the progress we are making. He has won European and domestic honours and will bring a wealth of experience and a massive set-piece capability to our squad."

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