15 for 10: The “Galacticos” era for the Ospreys was arguably over a year into this decade, as huge names like Lee Byrne, Jerry Collins, Gavin Henson, and Mike Phillips departed the club after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Since then, the region hasn’t had the same level of success although fans have still seen some of the best players in world rugby ply their stuff at the Liberty stadium.
RugbyPass has put together a team of the decade – a reminder of just how star-studded the side has been in the noughties. Here’s the 15 for 10: Ospreys.
15. Dan Evans
According to the stats, Evans ran more metres (10,221) and carried more often (1,632) than any other player in the Pro12 and Pro14 during the last decade. Wales might not have wanted the Ospreys full-back but the fans love him for his reliability and work-ethic.
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14. Tommy Bowe
Returned to Ulster in 2012 but not before setting club and league records for Ospreys in his time there. The British and Irish Lion gets picked for his 37 try contribution to Ospreys most successful era.
13. Ashley Beck
Sadly more known to most for the injuries that have disrupted his career but Ospreys fans will have felt the loss of that potential more keenly, having seen his classy running and passing game most often in his eleven-year stint at the region.
12. James Hook
One of the modern era’s most well-known utility players – inevitably – gets selected in one of his less common positions. It’s a mark of his talent and commitment that he would probably play brilliantly here in this side.
11. Shane Williams
Another who left the Ospreys in 2012, having been a fixture in the side since 2003, but it feels impossible to leave him out, especially given the manner of his departure: a last minute try and conversion in his final game at the Liberty followed by two tries to seal the Pro12 title for his club in his last game in Ospreys colours. An icon.
10. Dan Biggar
Impossible to argue with Biggar’s selection here. Won them their most recent title with his nerveless kicking in 2012 and, at times since then, it felt like he was keeping Ospreys in whole seasons, never mind games. A warrior who made 210 appearances and 2,116 points before finally leaving.
9. Rhys Webb
The fans at the Liberty have seen some classy scrum halves grace their turf over the years and Webb is up with the best of them. Despite a trio of classy options at nine, fans are understandably excited to see him return for the start of the next decade.
1. Duncan Jones
Paul James and Nicky Smith have been loyal servants and deserve a shout-out but it’s almost impossible to overlook the loosehead half of the “Hair Bear” duo. Along with Gethin Jenkins, he helped redefine the skillset of the number one jersey.
2. Richard Hibbard
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Ospreys’ front row had their own barber – their hair was as iconic as their play. Hibbard kept up both demands the way he kept up the scrum: with aplomb. Would make a case for inclusion in a Wales team of the decade (although Ken Owens might nick it).
3. Adam Jones
Another player who didn’t last until the mid-way point of the decade but can’t be overlooked. The “Bomb” was an anchor on the field and a cult hero off it, straddling two decades of play for Ospreys.
4. Ian Gough
Ian Evans could feel hard done by here but it’s difficult to overlook Gough’s partnership with Jones in the boiler room. An area where Ospreys have been fairly strong even in their decline, until recent years.
5. Alun-Wyn Jones (c)
Surely the first name on every team sheet he is eligible for, whether it be Ospreys, Wales, the Lions, or a team of the decade. An unbelievable player and leader and, despite his sometimes prickly demeanour with journalists, has proved to various wide-eyed fans what a lovely bloke he is too.
6. Jerry Collins
Another player simply too iconic to be ignored, despite only playing between 2009-11. His presence at the time represented everything that was good about Ospreys at the start of the decade.
7. Justin Tipuric
In a team of the decade, some players get picked because their one or two seasons can’t be overlooked, whereas some are long-term servants. Some, like Alun-Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar, and Tipuric, are picked for both reasons. Tipuric has been an astonishing servant and his all-court game is admired by fans well beyond the Liberty.
8. Ryan Jones
Handed over the captaincy at the start of this decade and left the side in 2014 but his consistency of performance and trophies demand selection in a team like this. Incredibly influential.
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