Welsh club Ospreys insist Waikato's Jono Gibbes has a legally binding rugby contract with them and have sought the Welsh Rugby Union's help to enforce it.

The former All Blacks flanker/lock yesterday extended his New Zealand Rugby Union contract to the end of 2009. It was due to expire at the end of this year.

Ospreys announced in June that Gibbes had signed with them. Gibbes was with the New Zealand Maori team in Canada then.

The Welsh club said Gibbes had signed up in April to join them from next year.

"In the end, as attractive as the Ospreys offer was, there just were some things that weren't finished for me in New Zealand rugby," Gibbes said yesterday.

He insisted he had signed only an option with Ospreys, one that committed him to that club if he decided to quit New Zealand.

But Ospreys, who now have the services of former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall as well, vented frustration at Gibbes' silence over the past few months.

"We have given copies of Jono Gibbes's contract and work permit to the Welsh Rugby Union after having three months of silence from New Zealand," Ospreys managing director Mike Cuddy told the South Wales Evening Post.

"We have done that to make sure there is an avoidance of doubt in this matter.

"There has been speculation about Jono signing a new contract with Waikato, but the reality is he will become an Ospreys player from January 1, 2007."

Gibbes said he had made up his mind while with the Maori team.

Cuddy said they had expected Gibbes to honour his agreement to join them.

"There are binding commitments in place on both sides. This is not a situation either party has entered into lightly," Cuddy told NZPA earlier.

Gibbes, an eight-test All Black whose career has been affected by injuries, said he had gone through an agonising time trying to make up his mind, and used his time in Canada to get things clear in his head before coming home to make a final decision.

- NZPA