After returning to action ahead of schedule during last weekend's West Wales derby against the Scarlets, Alun Wyn Jones says he's looking forward to being involved in the big games coming up over the next few weeks.
The second-row suffered a chipped bone and ligament damage to the elbow joint during Wales' Six Nations win over Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in mid-February, an injury that required surgery and which initially saw concerns as to whether he would play again this campaign.
However, after an intensive rehab period working with the Ospreys medical and conditioning teams, Jones was back in the black shirt as a second half replacement in the Good Friday win over their local rivals at the Liberty Stadium, and after coming through 22 minutes unscathed, the British Lion is hoping to get the nod for Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Biarritz in San Sebastian.
"Initially there was talk of me being out for the season, so I'm just relieved really that I've been able to get back playing so soon" said Jones.
"After the injury on the Saturday, I had scans on the Tuesday, and it was agreed that aggressive action was necessary, with the operation done on the Wednesday. I was a little bit fearful at first, it seemed a bit much to be honest, but in hindsight it was a good move. It was a six week lay-off when it could have been a lot longer so I'm grateful to the medical team for their expertise, and the support that I've had over this period.
"There's been a lot of hard work over the last few weeks, a lot of therapy and treatment with the Physios. They've kept me in the loop, they've worked me hard on the rehab, to get me fit for this weekend in a short period of time of really."
Admitting that he doesn't make the best patient, Jones added that the hard work of Physio Chris Towers and his team, combined with a positive mental attitude, ensured that he was able to return to action ahead of schedule:
"It's been hard at times, but I was able to let my hair down a little bit towards the end as I knew it was all going well. The first four weeks were the toughest, but an aggressive rehab programme which really pushed me has paid off in the end. I don't think I'm a great patient at the best of times. Every day I was telling Chris Towers that I could play, even when I had the cast and brace on, but I think being positive throughout helped me make it. I'm just looking forward to moving through the rest of the season, and some big games, injury free now, touch wood.
"Touch wood again, there doesn't seem to have been any reaction and as far as I can tell I'm okay. The only problem was one penalty, so hopefully I can put that right in San Sebastian if selected. Obviously I was a little bit tentative thinking about the game, it's only natural I suppose, but in the heat of battle you just get into it and I don't think I held back, I gave it a good test."
With a massive couple of weeks ahead for the region, with a trip to the Basque region of Spain followed by three Magners League games in Ireland, Jones says that it is important that the Ospreys maintain the momentum gained in the two weeks since the international contingent returned from Six Nations duty if they are going to achieve their aims in the coming weeks:
"I'm looking forward to the weekend now. Depending on selection and if I get the nod, I'm sure that it will be a great experience. It's the third time now that we've been at this stage with the Ospreys after Saracens and Munster, and the aim is to try and go one step further this year. Obviously, we've not been at the top of our game the last two matches, but we are building momentum, the performance was better against the Scarlets, and we want to continue that improvement into Saturday's game, and then beyond into a busy period of Magners games. Momentum is everything, and if we've got it on our side, we can use it to give us that little edge in these big games coming up."