Alun Wyn Jones returns to action on Friday night after almost three months on the sidelines with a toe injury and he admits he's "champing at the bit" to pull the Ospreys jersey on once again.
He suffered the injury to his big toe in innocuous circumstances on the training field during the build-up to the Heineken Cup game in Treviso in October, but after what by his standards has been a lengthy lay-off, he has been named among the replacements for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
After all the sweat and toil in rehab, the region’s skipper can’t wait to get going again:
“It’s been three months, a long time, and I’m champing at the bit to be honest” said Jones.
“I’ve done all the rehab work with the medical and conditioning teams, they’ve given me the all clear and I need to play now to see if I’m fully fit as it were.
“I appreciate with longer term injuries you aren’t completely out of the woods until a month down the line with minutes under your belt but I need to play now to see where I am.
“Physically it’s been good to catch up on a bit of time off that I probably haven’t had over the last couple of years, that’s helped, and then there’s been the extra conditioning work to sort me out. Now it’s just time to find out how the lungs are. I’ve done all the work, now there’s only one way to test them out. I’m sure I’ll make a few mistakes when I come on as I’m a bit rusty but I’m not fearing those, I just want to get back on the park and play.”
While he’s been out of action the coaching team have been reluctant to set any deadlines for his return given the unusual nature of his problem, and Jones himself acknowledges that it’s been a bit tough to accept that such a seemingly small problem could keep him out for so long.
“I’ve had that from a few people” he added.
“They say to you ‘oh it’s only a toe injury’. I don’t want any sympathy, it’s a part of the game and I suffered a fracture and dislocation of the big toe and when it first happened I didn’t think it was going to be too long. But, it is what it is, and I’m back a little bit quicker than expected so there’s a little bit of equilibrium there.”
Unable to play, Jones has spent time sat in the Liberty Stadium stands over the last three months and he says a positive for him as been being able to just be a fan for a change:
“I’ll hold my hand up to being a pretty poor patient so I didn’t watch too much of the rugby sessions early on, but I’ve been to all the matches, I’ve been a regular in the crowd watching the team and being a supporter. I’ve been over the Riverside after the games with the OSC and really enjoyed being part of everything, I’m just one of them after all.
“I’m grateful to all the fans who’ve seen me at the games and shown interest in how I am, asked me how I’ve been getting on, it’s really appreciated, but now I’m glad that I can just get back to playing, starting this weekend.”