The Ospreys are delighted to confirm that prop Paul James has become the latest player to commit his long-term future to the region...
The Ospreys are delighted to confirm that prop Paul James has become the latest player to commit his long-term future to the region.
26 year-old James has signed a five year-deal that will see him remain at the Liberty Stadium until the end of the 2012-13 season, just days after team-mate Jonathan Thomas also agreed to extend his time with the Ospreys.
The durable Neath born front row forward has been a mainstay for the region since making his debut in their very first Celtic League fixture, against Ulster at the Gnoll in September 2003, racking up an impressive 98 appearances to date and scoring two tries. Following the summer departures of Barry Williams and Shaun Connor, James has the most appearances of any current Osprey and is expected to overtake Williams at the top of the overall list in the early stages of the forthcoming season.
He has captained the Ospreys on 16 occasions, most notably in the historic 24-16 win over Australia in 2006, and has been capped once by Wales, against Romania in 2003.
Speaking after signing his new contract, Paul James said:
"I'm very happy to have re-signed, as a Neath boy I'm proud to be representing my local region. To be offered a five-year contract shows faith in my ability and the fact that I've happily signed such a long contract shows that I believe we are heading in the right direction. Hopefully I'll achieve the landmark of 100 appearances once the new season gets underway but looking long-term, I don't see why I can't go on and target 200 as I'm still relatively young and hope to be around for a while yet.
"There's competition for places here and I realise that I'm not guaranteed games, but that's a good thing as it keeps you on your toes. You can't take anything for granted here. Hopefully I can build on what was a good season for me last year and force my way back into the national set-up over the next year. That's a big goal for me and I'll be happy if I can add to the one cap that I have but I know that I have to be on top of my game if I'm going to achieve my goal."
Ospreys Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys added:
"Paul is a player who is highly regarded by everyone at the Ospreys but is a bit of an unsung hero as far as people outside of the region are concerned. He was one of the original Ospreys in our very first Celtic League match five years ago, and is a local boy, so it is highly significant that his ability and leadership qualities have been rewarded with a long-term contract.
"Paul's presence in the squad and the consistently high level of his performances have pushed Duncan Jones onto a higher level, benefiting both the Ospreys and Wales. I'm sure that over the coming seasons Paul will have a big part to play, not only with the Ospreys but also, for the Welsh national team."