Thursday, March 29, 2007

Justin Marshall signs with Ospreys

April 25, 2006

Dunno wot he's thinking.

Rugby Planet reports:

Official - Marshall signs with the Ospreys

Departing Leeds Tykes scrum-half Justin Marshall has signed a two-year contract with the Ospreys after requesting a move away from Headingley following the club's relegation from the Guinness Premiership.

The 32-year-old, who has 81 caps for New Zealand to his name, had been the subject of intense interest from a number of clubs including French outfit Bourgoin and newly-promoted Harlequins, but he has opted for a move to south Wales instead.

Marshall admitted the Ospreys' superb 20,000-seater Liberty Stadium, which they share with football team Swansea, was a factor in his decision to sign.

"The Ospreys are a team that are going places and I have been very impressed with their professionalism on and off the pitch," said Marshall.

"They have a magnificent stadium, some of the best training facilities I've seen and a squad that I believe can compete with the best in Europe.

"I was approached by clubs from England and France but I have been motivated by the region's ambitions, once I had spoken to the Ospreys and seen the area and set up with my own eyes, it was a simple decision in the end."

Despite the Tykes' desperately disappointing season, Marshall has managed to emerge with his reputation very much intact, and he was yesterday named as one of the nominees for the Professional Rugby Players' Association player of the year award.

He will team up with Wales centre Gavin Henson at the Liberty Stadium, and is looking forward to a far more productive year on the pitch.

"I am a very ambitious, competitive individual and I look forward to furthering my ambitions with the Ospreys," he said.

Ospreys managing director Mike Cuddy added: "We are delighted to have secured Justin's signature as this is a massive signing for the Ospreys."

Marshall's contract is said to be worth about £150,000 ($267,766) per year, which is a small fortune for a Welsh region, but the Ospreys hope that Marshall could put bums on seats in the new Liberty Stadium in the same way Jonah Lomu did at Cardiff, thereby recouping some of the money.

The Ospreys' other scrum-half is Jason Spice, formerly of the Hurricanes, who is also approaching the end of his career and has had an inconsistent season so far, after shining during the Ospreys' victorious 2005/06 Celtic League campaign.

The Ospreys are also thought to be close to signing New Zealand flank-cum-lock Jono Gibbes.

The NZ Maori captain is said to have already agreed to a move in the close season, although nothing has been put down on paper yet.

Wales international fullback Lee Byrne is joining from the Scarlets, and Wales sevens star Tal Selley is moving the same way.



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