Let’s use Liberty to our advantage…

Ryan Jones hoping that the Liberty factor can inspire the Ospreys this weekend

After starting the new RaboDirect PRO12 season with games on the road against Treviso and Leinster, Ryan Jones says the Ospreys are looking forward to returning home to the Liberty Stadium for their Round 3 fixture against Edinburgh this Saturday (KO 6.30pm).

Jones skippered the team on the opening weekend in Italy but was forced to sit out the trip to Dublin having taken a bang to the shoulder the previous weekend, and he says he’s hoping to recover in time to run out against the Scots this weekend.

“I was disappointed not to be involved at the weekend” admitted Jones.

“The RDS is a fantastic place to play and we’ve enjoyed a good record there in recent seasons. It’s one of the PRO12’s great rivalries I think, and it seems that it was another classic encounter between the two teams.

“We’re all looking forward to being back at home this weekend. It’s week three and it’s our first game at home. There’s a huge appetite for it and the players, just as much as the fans I think, are looking forward to getting some game time at the Liberty.

“Fingers crossed I’ll get the nod from the medical team and, if selected, it’ll be great to get back out there in front of our home crowd at the Liberty Stadium. It’s a fantastic venue and our supporters have shown there time after time that they can create a wonderful atmosphere. We need to use that to our advantage, to feed off the fans and them feed off us. It’d be great to see a big crowd there to help us build some real momentum.”

The Ospreys sit in fourth place in the formative league table, with six points earned from a win and a draw in their two games to date. Jones acknowledged that it was a vast improvement on last season’s start, but challenged the squad to continue improving.

“We were bitterly disappointed with the way we started last year” he said.

“Losing the first three games put pressure on us later in the year and in the end we were chasing results to try and make up for that.

“We’ve had a far better start this year and that, hopefully, will stand us in good stead for the weeks and months ahead. The down side of not making the play-offs was that it meant we’ve had a long pre-season, and conversely, the up side of not making the play-offs is that we’ve had a long pre-season!

“It’s meant that we’ve had plenty of time to put in the ground work for the battles ahead. We’ve seen a few boys coming back in from injury, we’ve been bolstered by new faces coming in and players stepping up from age-grade and we’re in a good place at the moment I think. The challenge that we face as a squad now is to continue striving to improve. We aren’t the finished article based on two games and if we think we are, that’s where we’ll fall flat. We have to keep working hard.”

Jones stepped into the second row in Treviso, a position he has filled in at several times in recent seasons, and although more widely considered as a back-rower, he revealed that he will play anywhere if it means getting to pull on the Ospreys jersey on matchday.

“Listen, it is hugely competitive here but I’ve always been a case of ‘have boots will travel’. I’ll play anywhere if it means I’m doing my bit for the team. I’ll do what’s required. We’ve got huge strength in depth in the back five and it’s an achievement just to get a game for the Ospreys.

“Look at who’s been involved over the first few weeks, old heads like Bearman have been excellent, it’s been great to have Tom Smith back after a year out with injury. He’s been like a new signing. And, of course, we’ve got youngsters like James King and Sam Lewis who’ve been nothing short of exceptional. It’s incredibly satisfying as someone who has been here a long time and cares passionately about this region to see players like that coming through, even if it makes life difficult for me.

“We’ve also got some pretty good players who’ve enjoyed a summer in Australia and have come back in good spirits, and that also gives everybody a lift. Some of our Lions boys have already made an impact off the bench, others are there or thereabouts and are looking to get involved on Saturday, and that’s great. It means there’s real competition for places and that can only drive us forward and help us get better individually and as a team in the coming weeks.

“I’m still as competitive as I’ve ever been. I’ve still got huge aspirations for this region to go on and be successful, and be a team that no one likes to play against, domestically and in Europe. We are striving to be the best that we can as a group.”

Tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale now at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets, or via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665, with prices starting from £20 (adults), with child tickets costing just £5.

Alternatively, season memberships are still available with adult prices starting from the incredible price of just £185, which gives you access to all home regular season RaboDirect PRO12 games, along with Heineken Cup and LV= Cup pool matches – that’s 16 games throughout the season at £11.56 per match – and up to two kids can go free with all paying members. Make sure you call or visit the Ticket Office ahead of kick-off on Saturday to take advantage of this great deal.