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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Williams hands on Ospreys reins
Ospreys captain Barry Williams
Williams feels the time is right for a change of voice
Ospreys captain Barry Williams will pass on the armband after Friday's game with Ulster, the west Wales region's last match of the season.

The ex-Wales and Lions hooker, 32, will keep playing for at least two years.

But after taking the Ospreys leadership from Scott Gibbs two-and-a-half years ago he feels it is time for change.

"Leading the region has been one of the biggest honours in my career, but I think the team needs a fresh voice," he told the South Wales Evening Post.

"Now it's over and I can go back to being one of the boys. I won't have to think of team talks and I'll be able to throttle back on the press stuff as well."

Williams led the Ospreys to the Celtic League title last season, but this campaign has been troubled for the team.

The 24-cap man was struggling with a bulging neck disc, but surgery in January saved his career.

We were in the wilderness before Barry took over, seeking leadership

Ospreys coach Lyn Jones

In his absence, new Wales captain Duncan Jones took the reins at the Ospreys and he could be in pole position to take the job permanently - if his international duties do not prove too taxing.

The region's coach Lyn Jones was keen to pay tribute to his outgoing skipper.

"Barry has been an outstanding captain," said Jones. "We were in the wilderness before he took over, seeking leadership.

"Barry stepped forward and pointed the way. He has a feel for the game and makes good calls; he leads by example; he commands respect from fellow players.

"We could not have done without him when we won the title. He made an immense contribution and everyone at the region is grateful."

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