Adam Jones closing in on Toulon move
July 20, 2014
Adam Jones has also been linked with moves to Saracens and Bristol © Getty Images
Adam Jones could be playing his rugby in France next year after signing a pre-contract agreement with Top 14 champions Toulon, according to a report.
Toulon are understood to have identified Wales prop Jones as their preferred choice to replace 34-year-old Carl Hayman, the Rugby Paper reports. Hayman's contract is due to expire at the end of the coming season, leaving the way clear for Jones to move to the Mediterranean after the 2015 World Cup.
The timing would be perfect for Jones, who is understood to be planning to retire from international rugby after the World Cup in England. But the question of what he does between now and the start of the 2015 domestic season is something yet to be answered.
Jones' contract with the Ospreys is up and he is understood to have turned down both a new deal with the region and a proposed central contract with the WRU. Jones has been linked with a move to the Aviva Premiership with Saracens, while Bristol are thought to have made an audacious bid to lure him to the Championship.
The Rugby Paper reports that the Bristol deal could have given Jones the option of being sub-contracted out to Sale Sharks, rather than put his Wales future in jeopardy by playing in the Championship.
Jones, 33, appeared to struggle on Wales' tour of South Africa last month and was dropped ahead of the second Test for the younger Samson Lee. But Warren Gatland is sure to want a man of Jones' experience - he has 95 caps for his country - when Wales go into battle at next year's World Cup.
That means he needs Jones playing at the highest level this coming season. Any Ospreys offer is likely to be well short of the £250,000 a year they offered earlier this year, while the current impasse between the regions and the WRU makes a central contract an impossibility.
The regions are refusing to play anyone contracted to the WRU until a new deal can be reached on the future of Welsh rugby, raising the prospect of Wales captain Sam Warburton being without a team to play for next season.
Pre-contract agreements with French clubs are not necessarily binding. Wales lock Ian Evans had signed one with the Toulon last year, only for the club to change their mind at the last minute, forcing Evans into a move to Bristol.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby
Huw Richards Rewinds to 1975 when three Welsh legends were handed their debuts and assesses their legacy
Seven places in the Champions Cup quarter-finals are up for grabs; we break down the permutations for each group in the final round of matches