Wales's international hooker Richard Hibbard has extended his contract with the Ospreys until at least 2012.
The 24-year-old international recently underwent surgery on his right shoulder but is hoping to make his return to action before the Welsh region's European opener against Leicester Tigers on Sunday, 12 October.
Ospreys Coach Jonathan Humphreys has great expectations for Hibbard and believes that the Port Talbout native could become a world class player.
"We believe that Richard has the potential to become one of the best hookers in world rugby and are delighted that he sees his long-term future with the Ospreys. He is a highly motivated individual who has a strong desire to be a success, and the improvements in his game over the last twelve months are clear." commented Humphreys.
Welcoming the deal Hibbard said "I'm obviously pleased to have got this sorted, the offer of a four years is an indication of the Ospreys commitment. Last season was a good one for me, but I realise that I'm going to have to work hard if I want to build on it. My immediate target is to nail down a regular starting place but I'm aware that there's real competition for the number two shirt".
The Ospreys will be hoping to overcome their 200708 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens in this season's campaign where they will face double champions Tigers, Benetton Treviso and Daniel Carter's Perpignan in Pool 3.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.