Pro 12: Ospreys want Ian Evans to stay despite link with Toulon

Ospreys lock Ian Evans
Ospreys lock Ian Evans

The Ospreys say they want to keep Wales lock Ian Evans despite him being linked with a move to Toulon in the French press.

Evans, a British and Irish Lion in 2013, is out of contract at the Liberty Stadium in the summer.

Backs coach Gruff Rees claims the Ospreys are aware Evans is looking at his options.

"It is concerning but we have negotiations going on behind the scenes," said Rees.

"But these players have agents and, considering the climate we are in, they have to look at all their options.

"Our board are working damn hard to try and find a fit and it isn't easy...and there is probably one hand behind our back at the moment."

Evans is the latest Welsh international being linked with a big-money move away from Wales and to France.

Jonathan Davies, the Wales and British and Irish Lions centre, has confirmed he will leave the Scarlets at the end of the season, having signed a two-year deal with Clermont Auvergne in France.

Davies' departure from the Welsh regional scene is another huge blow for both the Scarlets and the Welsh Rugby Union, with the four regional teams struggling to keep leading players in Wales.

Evans, along with fellow Welsh Lions Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Jones, are all out of contract with the Ospreys in the summer.

Evans, 29, has admitted he would consider leaving the Welsh region if they were not competing in the Heineken Cup.

English and French clubs plan to quit the Heineken Cup for a new tournament, which may include Pro12 teams.

Rees revealed coach Steve Tandy, chief executive Andrew Hore and the Ospreys board are in discussions to keep all three players in Wales.

"We will try our damnedest," said Rees.

"I know Steve is working closely with the board and Andrew Hore and those discussions are taking place.

"We are proud of them and what they have achieved and want them to be proud of being Ospreys.

"And continue to do so in a side that is still challenging for honours at the highest level.

"That is what players want and we have to show that we have ambition, regardless of salary caps, that gives them that."

If he were to leave, Evans would be the latest Welsh international to quit Ospreys for France.

James Hook signed for Perpignan, Lee Byrne joined Clermont Auvergne while Mike Phillips moved to Bayonne before he was sacked for allegedly turning up while under the influence of alcohol for a video analysis session in October.

Rees admits the Ospreys have a battle on their hands to keep their Welsh Lions at the region.

"We have shed more players than most over the last couple of years, with the internationals who have left," said Rees.

"You don't want to but you have to look at the succession plan around losing one, or two or the horrible scenario of losing all three of them.

"It is a really frustrating and tough time and the Scarlets have lost a biggie in the last couple of days.

"We just have to try and manage our group and try to make the Ospreys environment as tough and as enjoyable as it is at the moment."