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Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 22 April 2011 15:48 UK

Shane Williams signs new two-year Ospreys contract

Shane Williams
Williams has rejected the lure of a move abroad to end his career in Wales

Shane Williams has signed a new two-year contract to stay with the Ospreys.

The 34-year-old Wales winger says the contract with the Welsh region is likely to be his last as a player.

Williams had been linked with a move to France where fellow-Ospreys James Hook and Lee Byrne are heading next season, while Gavin Henson is already there.

But he said: "I've never wanted to go anywhere else, this is where I'm happiest, and it's where I want to finish my career."

Williams, who has scored a record 53 tries in 79 Wales caps, revealed last month he was ready buck the recent trend of departing Wales stars by pledging his future to the Ospreys.

Since making his debut in the inaugural season of regional rugby in Wales back in 2003, the British & Irish Lion has made 127 appearances for the Ospreys, scoring 276 points.

His tally of 54 tries makes his the region's leading try-scorer, 17 ahead of nearest challenger Nikki Walker, with Tommy Bowe a further six scores behind.

"It's like a family at the Ospreys and I'm a part of the furniture here really," said Williams in a statement released by the Ospreys.

"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."

A knee injury has prevented Williams from playing for the Ospreys since the end of the Six Nations Championship.

The initial prognosis suggested the winger would not play again this season, but Williams has recovered sooner than expected and hopes to make his comeback in the final game of the regular Magners League season away to Aironi on Friday, 6 May.

Shane pays tribute to Shanklin

"I'm delighted to have finalised everything now and I'm excited about what's in store over the next two seasons," added Williams, who is set to retire from international rugby at the end of this year's Rugby World Cup.

"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."

Despite offering a "£1million contract", the Ospreys failed to persuade Hook to stay, the versatile back choosing to fly the nest to sign for French giants Perpignan.

Full-back Lee Byrne will also cross the English Channel at the end of the season after agreeing to join Clermont Auvergne, while want-away Mike Phillips will leave once he finds a new club.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones, though, has already signed a new contract, and head coach Sean Holley said he had no doubts that Williams would remain loyal to 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," said Holley.

"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."

Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Andrew Bishop, Richard Fussell, Tom Isaacs, Rhys Webb, James King, Kristian Phillips, Scott Baldwin and James Goode have also signed new deals with the Ospreys.

The region have also recruited Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i from New Zealand Super 15 side Crusaders, and back-rowers Joe Bearman [Dragons] and George Stowers [London Irish].



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see also
Ospreys made 1m bid to keep Hook
22 Apr 11 |  Welsh
Williams close to surprise return
22 Apr 11 |  Ospreys
Shane pays tribute to Shanklin
22 Apr 11 |  Welsh
Jones signs new Ospreys contract
11 Apr 11 |  Ospreys
Holah latest to make Ospreys exit
19 Apr 11 |  Ospreys
Ospreys will let Phillips leave
13 Apr 11 |  Ospreys
Exeter sign Wales prop Mitchell
29 Mar 11 |  Exeter
Byrne's move to France confirmed
01 Feb 11 |  Ospreys
Hook confirms Perpignan contract
26 Jan 11 |  Ospreys
Williams 'will not go on forever'
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
'Humbled' Shane's frustration
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
A try tribute to Shane Williams
17 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Williams confirms Six Nations end
14 Mar 11 |  Welsh


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