No looking back for skipper

Alun Wyn Jones says that the focus has to be on the future after he reported back for pre-season training this week.

Jones will captain the Ospreys for a fourth consecutive season making him the longest serving skipper in the region’s history, and he is in no doubt where his priorities lie in the coming months.

“I’m very happy to be back for pre-season” he said.

“It’s good to be home and I just want to get on with it now. I’m very proud of what we achieved as a group in the summer, but it’s time to move on from that and concentrate on the Ospreys.

“There’s a lot of rugby to be played over the next 10 months or so and I’m looking ahead. It’s important we don’t fall into the old trap of looking back. Everybody is gearing up for the new season and focusing on what is in front of us.”

With a delayed return to training following his summer exertions down under, Jones says he’s noticed a positive mood at the region’s Llandarcy training HQ, stressing that he, along with his fellow senior pros, all have a big role to play over the summer months and beyond:

“I’m adjusting to being back in the environment after being away and then having some time off. There are new faces in the camp and a good vibe. I’ve had a delayed start to pre-season so I just want to put my hand up and fight to get the black jersey back off whoever wears it at the start of the season.

“We’ve only been back in for a couple of days, we’ve only been involved in testing and whatever, but the mood seems to be good. There are new signings who look good additions, and we’ve got a new forwards coach as well.

“As players you respond to new faces, new opinions, and we’re looking forward to working with Chris. It’s over to the senior players to ensure we get the best out of the environment then. We can aid the coaches, help the new boys settle and aid the younger ones who are stepping up this season. We’ve all got an important role to play and if we can help to make this environment a better one then we’ll all see the benefit.”

Having cast his eye over the fixture list and the challenges that lay ahead, Jones highlighted the need to get off to a good start in the opening weeks of the new season as crucial:

“It’s an exciting fixture list. We had a false start last season with three losses and ultimately it cost us the play-offs so we have to start better this time. A key date for us is the first home game against Edinburgh (Sat 21st September) that should be a big occasion and a good crowd as it’s our first competitive game at the Liberty. If we can get off to a positive start in the first two weeks then it’ll build up nicely for that game with some real momentum.

“The Scarlets back-to-back at the end of the year is interesting, a bit like an extra Christmas present, it’ll be good to see how that goes.

“It’s a competitive Heineken Cup pool as well, with some very good sides. It won’t be easy, it never is, but we are home in the first game against Leinster so it’s important we front up from the start. If we can get the performance level we need in that match, it sets up an interesting double header against Castres who surprised everyone to win the French league last season. Anything can happen, which is what makes it exciting.”