The Ospreys are delighted to confirm that Shane Williams has put pen to paper on a new two-year contract.
The long-serving winger, who was originally signed for Neath from Amman United by Ospreys Managing Director Mike Cuddy in 1998 and is one of the ‘originals’ who made up the first ever regional squad for the 2003/04 season, has signed a deal that will keep him with the Ospreys until the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
Still one of the deadliest finishers in the game, Shane has pulled on the Ospreys shirt on 127 occasions to date, scoring 276 points. His tally of 54 tries for the region puts him way in front of the competition as the all-time Ospreys try-scorer, 17 ahead of Nikki Walker in second place, with Tommy Bowe a further six behind. His Ospreys debut came against Leinster at the Gnoll in late November 2003 following that year’s Rugby World Cup, his first try for the region coming a week later in a Heineken Cup tie against Leeds.
His prolific record is replicated on the international stage, where he is Wales’s all time record try scorer and currently the third highest try scorer in test rugby, with 53 in 79 games. In addition, he has two tries from four tests for the Lions having travelled on the 2005 and 2009 tours to New Zealand and South Africa.
Speaking after signing his new contract, Shane vowed to see out his playing days at the Ospreys, saying:
“I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else, this is where I’m happiest, and it’s where I want to finish my career. It’s like a family at the Ospreys and I’m a part of the furniture here really. I’ve been here a long time now, since the beginning, and I was at Neath before that along with a lot of players who have gone on to become massive Ospreys legends. Like them, I was signed by Mike Cuddy and with Mike still heavily involved in the running of the Ospreys it’s like home to me, somewhere that I’ve got a lot of good mates. Things like that help to make it an easy decision to sign a new contract. I’m delighted to have finalised everything now and I’m excited about what’s in store over the next two seasons.
“You always get a lot of speculation at this time of year, you expect that and you are prepared for it as players. When your contract is up for renewal you find yourself reading a lot of speculation, and things that you are supposed to have said that you haven’t, so as players you don’t take any notice of it. I just want to play rugby.
“It’s been a long time finalising things, but I always wanted to stay at the Ospreys and the Ospreys always wanted me to stay. I’m glad that it’s all sorted now.”
Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, welcomed the news that Shane has committed himself to the region, saying:
“It’s fantastic news for everybody involved with the Ospreys. Knowing Shane as I do, and how passionate he is about this region, you’d like to think it was never in doubt. However, knowing Shane’s undoubted talent, it should be no surprise to anyone if there was strong interest elsewhere for his services, which makes it even more satisfying that we have retained his services for another two years, the remainder of his career.
“This is the eighth season that I have worked with Shane, and he still does things on the pitch that amazes everyone around him, coaches, players and fans alike. As a coach, you’d like to take credit for some of things he does on a rugby field, but Shane is one of those players where it is a natural, immense, talent that he has.
“Over the last eight seasons, we’ve seen him mature as a person and a player, and he is always keen now to offload some of his experience onto the younger players. He is a real asset to the Ospreys, on the pitch and behind the scenes, and I’ve no doubt that he will continue to serve the region well over the next two years.”
Having penned his new deal, Shane insists that he has been excited by what he has seen of the new breed of Ospreys coming through the ranks, and that the dual challenge of helping them to develop while holding off their challenge for his shirt will keep him suitably focused and motivated over the coming seasons:
“First and foremost, my immediate aim now is to play well, and then it’s to hopefully help the Ospreys continue to win things” he said.
“There’s a lot of change taking place here at the moment and it’s an exciting time for everyone. During the Six Nations it was great to see some of the younger Ospreys really step up to the mark, there’s been some great performances in the backs from the likes of Ashley Beck, Rhys Webb, Hanno Dirksen and Tom Prydie, whose unfortunately is out with injury now.
“It’s times like that when you really want young players to show what they can do and these boys really stepped up, and it was good to watch. They don’t want to just be involved when players are away; they want to establish themselves in the team permanently.
“I’m excited about continuing to work with these guys, I’m at the stage of my career when I think I can give something back to these boys. While I want to help them develop, the truth is, I’m going to have fight for my place as there are some great players in my position, experienced ones and youngsters who have really come on this year. Nobody is going to want to just hand over the jersey, and that makes it a good situation for the Ospreys.
“I’ve got two years left in me as a player and I’m looking forward to it. I want to go out on a high, and for that to happen we all have to work hard as a group and do well for the Ospreys.”