Jones's future is at lock - Johnson
December 18, 2010
Ryan Jones endured a difficult autumn campaign with Wales © Getty Images
Ospreys coach Scott Johnson has launched a robust defence of Ryan Jones and revealed that Welsh international's future at club level is in the second-row.
Jones has come in for significant criticism for his performances in the back-row over the last 12 months and was stripped on the Welsh captaincy by Warren Gatland during the autumn internationals.
But Johnson insists that Jones remains a force in the game and believes he will be even more influential at lock, where he has been playing for the Ospreys recently.
"Ryan hasn't lost it (dynamism). Wales play slightly differently and get him to do different things," Johnson told the Western Mail. "He has enormous numbers when you look at his stats at the end of a game. His work-rate's absolutely phenomenal. He knows the short cuts.
"But where I like it is he gives you an added advantage at lock of being a footie player with a work ethic. It gives us a competitive edge."
Jones is set to play at lock again on Saturday when Ospreys take on Munster in the Heineken Cup. And Johnson admits the changes in the interpretation of the breakdown, which have led to a faster game this season, has led to the redefinition of Jones' role.
Johnson maintained the different rule interpretation at the breakdown, which has speeded union up and made it more attack-minded, had driven the Ospreys to switch Jones to lock. "The game has moved on. He is a little Martin Corryish," he said, comparing Jones with former England captain Martin Corry.
"I saw a young Ryan playing lock. We changed him to blindside flanker and No 8 with Wales. Sometimes, in a player's career, he can go a bit of a circle. The game changes, legislation changes, there's more mobility needed, the ball is in play a bit longer.
"What Ryan gives you is a tremendous work-rate, an incredible work-rate. He also has great skills of a back rower. The way the game is moving, if you add the two together you get an asset as a No 4 who provides footie skills and work-rate. I really like that combination. I like what he brings to us."
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