The Scarlets have hit back at rumours linking Stephen Jones away from the region.
A newspaper article suggested that English giants Leicester Tigers were in talks with the region about the star fly-half’s future but the Scarlets have immediately made it clear that this is not the case.
Jones, who played in all six Tests for the 2005 and 2009 Lions and has 88 Welsh caps to his name, is currently under contract with the Scarlets until 2011.
“The region would like to be clear that it has not had any approach from Leicester Tigers or talks with them regarding a transfer of Stephen Jones to their club next season,” said a club statement.
"We know that journalists have a job to do and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not an easy one because there is a huge pressure to deliver big stories 24/7 and of course timing is everything – so it’s no surprise that this has landed on a big derby day for us,” added Scarlets chief executive Paul Sergeant.
"However speculative articles and publishing of rumours, such as this, can be frustrating and uncomfortable for those on the receiving end including the players, region and its supporters particularly when they are not checked or come from an official statement.
"There is a darker side where people spread gossip and rumours run riot. In a high-profile business like ours dealing with speculation and rumour has become increasingly demanding and these issues can quickly spiral out of control.
"The other significant challenge that we have to deal with is the constant demand for answers to questions and rumours about private or confidential matters. Nowadays there seems little respect for privacy or confidentiality and if questions are not answered there is an immediate suspicion that there is something wrong or there is something to hide. In a high-profile business like our there is significantly more pressure to deal with such matters in public.
"Before Christmas we announced the re-signing of four players – prior to which there was speculation and rumour about their future at the Scarlets. Nonetheless, we went quietly about our business.
"This approach will not change, even in light of this morning’s newspaper article. We shall continue to respect the privacy and confidentiality of the arrangements we have with our players.
"So I would politely urge our supporters and other media to treat the region’s position and that of Stephen Jones with some respect and focus on rugby and tonight’s big match against the Ospreys."
The Scarlets travel to the Liberty Stadium for this evening’s huge Welsh derby knowing victory would greatly increase their chances of securing Heineken Cup qualification through the Magners League.
Nigel Davies’ men are currently 10 points behind tonight’s opponents, the same number adrift of the Dragons and four points shy of the Blues.
Jones has the perfect opportunity to make headlines for his rugby rather than rumour as he starts at fly-half against Wales rival Dan Biggar, with fellow out-half wannabe James Hook starting at inside centre for the Ospreys.