Heineken Cup
Jones to lock in for Ospreys
ESPNscrum Staff
October 14, 2010
Ospreys skipper Ryan Jones salutes the Liberty Stadium crowd following his side's victory over Leicester, Ospreys v Leicester, Heineken Cup, Liberty Stadium, January 23, 2010
Ryan Jones will start in the second-row for the Ospreys against London Irish © Getty Images

The Ospreys have sprung a surprise prior to Friday night's Heineken Cup showdown with London Irish, shifting Wales skipper Ryan Jones into the second-row for his first start of the season.

Jones has recently returned from an injury sustained while on tour with Wales in June, making an appearance off the bench in last weekend's loss to Toulon, but he has been unable to dislodge his understudy, the versatile Jonathan Thomas, at No.8.

Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson believes that moving Jones into the second-row creates the minimum amount of fuss for his side on a short turnaround, but the decision nevertheless generates further questions over his place in the international setup with the November internationals looming.

"The reasons behind the selection are twofold" Johnson said. "JT has started the year at eight as Ryan was unavailable for a period of time. He was asked to fill the void because of Ryan's injury and in fairness to him he has done exceptionally well.

"To put Ryan at eight and move JT to lock, it changes everything, calls, line-outs, and we didn't want to go down that path for a five-day turnaround. We think that Ryan has had enough game time now to warrant his place at the start. If we had two weeks then maybe we would do it differently, but we haven't, so for the sake of not having to change everything, we've gone with it this way."

Johnson praised Jones' team ethic in immediately accepting the challenge and also put forward his belief that there could be a place in the Welsh second-row for the former British & Irish Lion at next year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

"Ryan is a great team man, he has no issue at all with doing this for the team, which is exactly the kind of response we expected from him," he said. "They were both told the situation at the same time, we explained the logic to them and there were no issues.

"I promised JT at the start of the season that once a bloke gets the shirt, it's up to the others to get it off him, and we are supporting his form as a coaching team. At the same time, we are acknowledging the work that Ryan has done, and the work that we've missed.

"Ryan has played there before, and I genuinely believe that after the World Cup we'll probably see a bit more of him there. He's such a brave and industrious player, the way the game is going he will give us a competitive edge, and we wanted as many good athletes out on the pitch as we can."

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