Magners League Champions the Ospreys will have a new captain for the defence of their crown.
Star second row Alun Wyn Jones has been named as the region’s skipper for the 2010/11 season, taking over from Wales captain Ryan Jones who led the Ospreys for the three previous campaigns.
Alun Wyn passed a century of appearances for the Ospreys at the back end of last season having made his regional debut in September 2005, four months after they claimed their first Celtic title.
He skippered Wales in Italy in the 2008 Six Nations and is now relishing the chance to become the Ospreys’ official leader in what should prove to be yet another hugely exciting and demanding season.
“I’ve captained my country once and I had a 20 minute stint with the Lions, and it’s fair to say that I didn’t really expect those honours so early in my career, and that’s the case here as well if I’m totally honest,” said Jones.
“To be appointed captain is one of the memorable moments in your career, it’s a fantastic honour. It’s the start of a new chapter in my rugby career and in my personal development.
“Ryan’s are big shoes to step into and it’ll be a tough ask following on from the man who has won the EDF Energy Cup and the Magners League in his three years as captain, as well as a Grand Slam with the national squad. He’s achieved a lot and I know that he will give me the support that I’ll need.
“It’s probably my biggest challenge to date. Being captain of the regional side, and representing not just Swansea like I aspired to, but also the other famous clubs that make up the region, it’s a big responsibility. I want to play a small part in what we know we can achieve at the Ospreys, and that ambition has always been there.”
Director of rugby Scott Johnson insists the decision to hand the captaincy to the 24-year-old is no reflection on Ryan Jones, who led the Ospreys to Magners League glory in May.
Instead, the decision has been taken in part to ease the workload on the Wales skipper, who hopes to lead his country in next year’s World Cup.
“This appointment is about what’s best for everyone,” said Johnson.
“Ryan has done a fantastic job as Ospreys captain over the last three years; his record with the region and Wales speaks for itself. However, holding both roles brings with it a tremendous workload that can take its toll on and off the field, particularly going into a long season that has a World Cup at the end of it.
“We feel that it’s in Ryan’s best interests, and the Ospreys and Wales for that matter, if he can focus on the national captaincy going into this important season, with the responsibility of the regional role handed to someone else.
“As you can imagine, the discussions about who should replace him were lengthy as we have an abundance of candidates to choose from.
“In Alun Wyn, we’ve identified a young man who is well respected by his peers, is intelligent and a natural leader, who we believe will go on to one day captain his country on a permanent basis. In order to enable him to do that, he needs to learn his trade at the region and we have put our faith in him for this season.
“He has experienced an awful lot in his career despite being just 24, and we believe that we can help him channel this experience into becoming an exceptional captain, who will serve his country well in that role in the future.”