King happy to play anywhere for the cause..
After joining the lengthy list of Welsh internationals to roll off the production line at the Ospreys’ Llandarcy HQ when he was capped on this summer’s visit to Japan, James King has described the experience as ‘a dream come true’.
The Australian born forward arrived in Ospreylia via North Wales, where he cut his rugby teeth with Mold RFC, and Ellesmere College in Shropshire. Five years and 61 regional appearances after first reporting for duty at Llandarcy, he won his first two senior international caps last month, playing the full 80 minutes in both tests.
“It’s great to have made that next step in my career, to get experience of international rugby and my Wales cap” said King.
“I worked really hard last season and was fortunate enough to be a part of the Six Nations squad. Although I didn’t get capped then it was a fantastic learning experience for me, then to not only go to Japan in the summer but to play the full 80 in both tests was something I’m really proud of.
“Wales is always where I’ve considered my home despite being born elsewhere, and this region has been my home for a five years now. To play international rugby for Wales is a dream come true. Just to get the opportunity to come down here from North Wales five years ago to try and establish myself with the Ospreys was a big personal achievement, so to get my first pro contract, then sign a new long-term one that gives me security was fantastic.
“Playing for Wales in the summer topped that all off. Even better, it means I won’t be asked in interviews any more about playing for England or anyone else!”
He made his regional debut as a teenager back in October 2009, and although his appearances were sporadic over the next two years he has now established himself as a key member of the Ospreys squad, making 24 appearances in each of the last two seasons, including coming off the bench in the PRO12 semi and final in May 2012.
Having been a part of the title winning team then, he also tasted the end of season disappointment just a couple of months ago as the region fell at the final hurdle in their pursuit of a play-off place, and he says that it’s important the Ospreys do better this time around:
“Obviously we missed out on the play-offs which was really disappointing, so we want to make sure we get back into that mix. After doing so well to win it the previous season out in Leinster made it even more disappointing as we wanted to defend our title. The expectation here is that we are always competing at the top end of the PRO12, we’ve won it more than anyone else and that brings pressure.
“We’ve got boys coming back in from a good summer, especially the Lions and the boys who’ve been with Wales U20, and competition for places will be really hard. That’s why it’s important to do very well in pre-season. That competition can hopefully push on to make up for the disappointment at the end of last season.”
On a personal level, the only target King has set himself is to ensure he rises to the challenge for a place in the team and secures regular rugby once again.
“I just want to play as many games as I can for the Ospreys” he said.
“I’ve been involved a lot over the last two years. Last season I started more games, and I want to really establish myself this season - be that in the back row or a second row position.
“Being versatile has to be beneficial to me. It all depends on who you’ve got available in the squad, obviously, but if you can fit in to more than one spot to a good standard then you will have more opportunities. I just want to use it to my advantage, and to help the team by playing where I’m needed.
“I played at openside out in Japan, like I said, I’m more than happy to play anywhere as long as I’m on the field. Whether it’s four or seven or whatever, it doesn’t really matter to me.”