PRO12: Chance to play in Wales too good to turn down, says Delve
Wales international forward to add experience to Welsh region's back row after agreeing two-year deal
Gareth Delve admits the chance to play club rugby at home was too good to turn down as the Ospreys confirmed his signing on a two-year deal.
The 32-year-old, capped 11 times for Wales between 2006 and 2010, will join his first professional Welsh club in the summer from NEC Green Rockets.
I’m lucky to have played in some great places and I’ve travelled the world, but this opportunity to play in Wales with an ambitious, quality team, in front of my family, was too good to say no to.
Gareth Delve on his summer move to the Ospreys
The Cardiff-born back-row forward has enjoyed a nomadic career that has taken him from Bath to Abiko in Japan via Gloucester and Melbourne.
The experienced back-row forward has spent the last 15 months in Japan’s Top League after becoming the first Welshman to play in the SANZAR Super Rugby championship for the Melbourne Rebels franchise in 2011.
And the former Gloucester and Rebels captain is excited to join the Welsh region, who are currently in the hunt for the PRO12 play-offs.
“I’m lucky to have played in some great places and I’ve travelled the world, but this opportunity to play in Wales with an ambitious, quality team, in front of my family, was too good to say no to,” Delve said.
“I can’t emphasise enough my excitement. Of all the potential moves I could have made at this point of my career, this was the one that really excited me.
“I’m joining the Ospreys knowing that there is a real focus on creating the right environment for success, and helping the team to achieve its full potential is a challenge I’m looking forward to.”
With the Ospreys back row expected to be hit at the start of the 2015/16 Guinness PRO12 season by international call-ups during the Rugby World Cup in September and October, Delve will add some much-needed experience to Steve Tandy’s young squad.
I’ve been really impressed by Steve Tandy and Andy Lloyd when we’ve met, and I’m looking forward to helping them to achieve the vision that the Ospreys have.
Flankers Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric, who have been mainstays of Warren Gatland’s Wales squad, as well as Canada captain Tyler Ardron, are expected to miss the start of the PRO12, which will still run concurrently with the World Cup.
Number eight Dan Baker and versatile back-five forward James King could also force their way into the Wales squad, leaving Tandy again having to rely on youth players to make up the pack for up to six weeks, should Wales reach the knock-out stages.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to play with a quality team that I believe is going places, while I’ll be playing in Wales for the first time as a pro,” Delve added.
“I’ve been really impressed by Steve Tandy and [Ospreys recruitment and retention manager] Andy Lloyd when we’ve met, and I’m looking forward to helping them to achieve the vision that the Ospreys have.
“There’s a strong, competitive squad of players at the Ospreys, with some great young players who have real potential alongside some genuine world class individuals.
“When you add some of the signings confirmed for next season, experienced people like Paul James and Brendon Leonard coming in, and Joe Bearman re-signing, I think it’s a great blend.”
Andrew Millward, Ospreys general manager believes Delve’s recruitment will aid the development of their young talent, but will also help drive competition for places when the region’s international players return.
“Gareth will add a huge amount of experience to what is a young squad,” Millward said.
“He’s played in a lot of different environments, experienced different cultures, and his leadership abilities are unquestionable having captained sides throughout his career.
“As much as he’s here to help to develop others though, his primary role will be to compete for the shirt as much as anyone else.
“He was quite clear about that desire when we met, and we were quite clear that’s what we wanted from him.
“We could be missing as much as five international back row players at World Cup time, so to be able to call on someone of his undoubted quality, will be a real boost.
“Competition for places in the back row throughout the season will be intense, with nobody certain of their place in the team, and that is exactly what is needed if we are going to achieve what we want as Ospreys.”