The Ospreys have completed the signing of former New Zealand back-row forward Jerry Collins on a two-year deal.
The 29 year-old Collins, who made 48 appearances for the All Blacks, will make the switch to the Liberty Stadium from French club Toulon this summer, having now committed himself to the region until the end of the 2010/11 season.
Renowned for his physicality and inspirational defensive work, Collins is widely regarded as one of the leading back row players in world rugby. Primarily operating as a blindside flanker, he is equally capable of playing at openside or Number eight.
Standing 1.91m tall and weighing 109kg, Collins made his New Zealand debut as a 20 year-old against Argentina in 2001 and scored five tries for his country. He captained the side on three occasions and played in all three tests against the British & Irish Lions in 2005. His final cap came at the Millennium Stadium in October 2007, when France overcame the All Blacks in a World Cup quarter-final.
He played his domestic rugby with Wellington in the NPC, before stepping up to play Super 14 rugby with the Hurricanes, making 74 appearances, playing alongside Filo Tiatia in both competitions.
Andrew Hore, Ospreys Elite Performance Director, said:"As an organisation, we have always looked to bring in people of real quality from outside the region when we feel that they have the right characteristics to complement what we already have here, and Jerry Collins certainly fits that description. He is a proven world-class performer, who brings with him both a real hard edge and 'go-forward'.
"He will complement the other loose forwards that we have at the Ospreys, and importantly, will be available for selection throughout the season, providing valuable cover for the times when we lose so many players to the Welsh side.
"The Ospreys remain 100 per cent committed to producing home grown talent, and are immensely proud of our record in bringing through players for both the Ospreys and Wales teams. As we have shown before, there are occasions where we need to go outside of the region to identify and recruit true leaders in their field, who can help to develop and nurture our own young talent. In Jerry Collins we have certainly got a true leader."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.