Gareth Anscombe has been hailed as bringing the “X-factor” to the Ospreys as Sam Davies prepares to make room at the region by leaving for the Scarlets.
Anscombe’s decision to leave the Cardiff Blues for their regional rivals – a prospect dismissed by Blues coach John Mulvihill just a week ago – will spark a re-shuffle among the No.10s in Wales.
Davies has been offered a move to the Dragons and has also previously interested the Blues, but is instead likely to join the Scarlets.
Anscombe’s move from the Arms Park to the Liberty Stadium could also lead to Wales U20 star Cai Evans moving in the other direction as back-up to Jarrod Evans.
Current Wales first choice Anscombe has been promised a regular place at fly-half, his preferred position, rather than be shifted between No.10 and No.15 as he has been at the Blues, in order to accommodate Jarrod Evans.
The 27-year-old Anscombe is out of contract at the Blues this season and rejected a new deal in favour of the one presented by the Ospreys.
The decision keeps him Wales, despite the interest of English clubs, although a move across the border would have ended his international career in World Cup year as he has earned fewer than 60 caps.
He may now have played his last game for the Blues as their final game of the Guinness Pro14 regular season is against the Ospreys on Saturday week as part of Judgement Day.
The clash could yet be a straight shoot-out to see which team gets a crack at the Heineken Champions Cup play-off for entry into the tournament next season.
Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke – who feared his region were about to be merged into non-existence last month – could hardly contain his delight at his new gift.
Clarke said: “Gareth is a player I’ve admired for a long time and I’m delighted that he has committed his future to the Ospreys. It’s not just a statement of intent, it’s adding another player of current international quality to our squad for next season, the number one player in Wales in his position.
“He’s worked closely with (Ospreys backs coach) Matt Sherratt previously and I know that Gareth is looking forward to linking up with him again both in terms of the challenge and quality development of his game.
“Gareth will also add his undoubted positional and game breaking X-factor attributes to our backline and team attack.
“I have no doubt his drive and talent will contribute to the quality we already possess within the squad and he will become a fans’ favourite.
“This is a significant announcement, a signing which shows how ambitious we are to re-establish ourselves as a leading team in the Pro14.”
Anscombe said: ‘I’m delighted to have secured my future to play professional rugby in Wales and to be joining the Ospreys, I am very happy to finally be able to put pen to paper during what’s been an unsettling time and commit to staying in Wales.
‘I know a lot of the boys from my time with the Wales team and they can’t speak highly enough of the spirit and ambition within the region which really excites me.
‘I’ve been impressed with the vision and the long term goals of the coaches and Region as a whole and I would like to thank them for supporting my dream to continue playing pro rugby in Wales and, if I am playing well enough, to play for my country.’
Anscombe had been unhappy at new Welsh Rugby Union rules put players’ salaries into bands, based on their status within the game.
The New Zealander found himself left out of the top bracket because he had not toured with the British and Irish Lions and appealed against the judgement.
But despite flagging up a system that can value players based on how they were playing three years ago, Anscombe’s appeal was rejected.
After playing a leading role for Wales in their Grand Slam Six Nations campaign, he threatened a Welsh exodus if players were not rewarded properly and consulted over changes.
“We all want to play for Wales there is no doubt about that, but players need to be treated well and we deserve to be,” he said in March.
“We’ve given the union something to be pretty proud about and hopefully the union and the regions come together and sort out the best deals for the players because that’s important.
“We are doing a hell of a lot for the team and the country so we should be looked after.”