Paul James: I’ll be a better player at Ospreys after Premiership experience
Wales international prop hopes to play a big part in the region's new era after agreeing two-year deal to return home
Paul James believes he will return to the Ospreys next season as a better player after three seasons in the Aviva Premiership.
The 32-year-old Wales prop has agreed a two-year deal to return to his home region in 2015 from Bath Rugby, where he has been since leaving the Liberty Stadium in 2012.
I want to finish on a high there [Bath] this season, before I head home for the next chapter
“It’s great to be coming home next year,” James said. “I think I’m coming back as a better player thanks to the different experiences I’ve had over the last couple of years, and hopefully I’ll be able to play a big part at the region going forward.
“A lot has changed at the Ospreys since I was last part of the set-up, but the team has started the season well and has impressed me. It’s obvious that there is a bigger picture that everybody is working towards and that’s important.”
James was a regular feature in the Ospreys front row during his first stint at the Ospreys, making 180 appearances and scoring seven tries on his way to collecting four Celtic League titles after making his regional debut in the Ospreys’ first competitive match against Ulster at the Gnoll in September 2003.
His last appearance for the men in black was the 2012 PRO12 grand final win over Leinster at the RDS, where a 78th-minute Shane Williams try, converted by Dan Biggar, gave the Welsh region a famous 31-30 win.
His departure to The Rec for “a new challenge”, came at a time when the Ospreys lost a glut of big names, including Williams’ retirement, and Ireland winger Tommy Bowe’s return to Ulster.
But he has become a regular at the English club as well as Warren Gatland’s Wales squads, taking his international caps from 34 to 55 during his time at Bath.
The high-flying Ospreys, under head coach Steve Tandy, remain unbeaten in the Guinness PRO12 ahead of this weekend’s clash with Connacht in Swansea, and James admits he is looking forward to working with the new crop of exciting Ospreys players when he makes a permanent return home.
“I played with people like Steve Tandy, [recruitment manager] Andy Lloyd and [general manager] Andrew Millward, so I know what they want to achieve for the region, and that they expect the highest standards on and off the pitch,” he added.
“There are some really exciting front row players coming through the system who I’m looking forward to working with, and while I can give them my experience, playing and training alongside them will also help me as well.
“I’ve had a great few years at Bath, I’ve really settled in well, and the club has been great to me so I want to finish on a high there this season, before I head home for the next chapter.”