Duncan Jones says that he's looking forward to stepping up pre-season preparations on Saturday when Guinness Premiership side Leeds Carnegie visit the Liberty Stadium for the first of two pre-season fixtures.
The 29-year old loosehead has enjoyed a good pre-season as he looks to re-establish himself as first choice in the number one shirt at the region after missing five months of rugby last season after suffering a chronic stress fracture in his right foot. He returned to the Ospreys side for the final four Magners League fixtures of the season before heading to the USA and Canada with Wales for their summer tour. Now, as the new campign approaches, Jones says that he’s looking forward to pulling on the black shirt again. He commented:
"Obviously pre-season is an important time for any squad, it’s the time when a lot of the base work for the season is done, and when people are looking to make an early impression on the coaches to cement their place. There’s also a fresh feel about the place with young players stepping up keen to show what they can do and new signings also coming into the group so it’s always a pretty exciting time for a player.
"We’ve been working hard now since the end of July and we’ll step up a gear with the first match at the weekend. Game time is an important part of pre-season, it allows you to get a feel for where you are, and it’s an opportunity to see how everything you’ve been practising in training works in a live environment, what works and what you may be have to go back and change.
"For me personally, I can’t wait for the season to start, I just want to be playing games, and being a part of the squad again after so long out injured. Last season I had a lengthy spell out, and it can be hard work. All any player wants is to feel a part of the squad, but when you are long term injured and not playing games at the weekend it’s difficult to really be a part of the season. I tried to keep my hand in as best I could, helping in training sessions where possible and travelling to matches but it’s not the same. I worked hard and got back in ahead of schedule to play four games at the end of the season, which was a huge relief, and after a good pre-season I feel good and I’m looking forward to the new season and challenging for a place in the matchday squad."
With an eye on the coming season, Jones insists that competition for places amongst the squad will act as a catalyst for the Ospreys as they go into battle on three fronts in the months ahead. He said:
"I’m always optimistic going into a new season and it’s no different this time. There’s real competition for places and the boys have really been pushing each other in training, everybody wants to do well and be part of the squad. With the competition there is here, everybody knows that they have to be at the top of their game so are really going for it. For us this season, it’s all about getting the performance right, not setting any particular targets. If we get the performance levels right and do what we have to do, week in, week out, everything else should take care of itself."