"The reasons behind the selection are twofold"

After confirming that Ryan Jones will make his first start of the 2010/11 campaign on Friday night, Scott Johnson has explained the reasoning behind pitching him into the second row instead of his usual back row berth.



The Wales skipper returns to the starting XV for the crunch Heineken Cup clash against Aviva Premiership leaders London Irish following three appearances off the bench after he was given an extended pre-season due to a combination of international duty and injury.

While Jones has shown up well in his replacement appearances, making a big impact off the bench, the outstanding form of Jonathan Thomas in the number eight jersey in his absence had made it difficult for the coaches to leave him out of the XV.

As Director of Coaching Scott Johnson explains, form dictates that both players should be in the starting line-up, but the short turnaround between games means that Ospreys will be best served by Jones slotting into the second row, a position that Thomas himself filled throughout last season.

“The reasons behind the selection are twofold” said Johnson

“JT has started the year at eight as Ryan was unavailable for a period of time. He was asked to fill the void because of Ryan’s injury and in fairness to him he has done exceptionally well.

“Saying that, we’ve certainly missed Ryan’s contributions so we wanted him in the team. We feel that balancing that one change, rather than the two it would be if they swapped positions, is better for the team given the short turnaround and preparation time for the week.

“We needed Ryan’s effectiveness and his work-rate, the team needed that, but it’s too complicated to start moving everyone around. We are very happy with JT, and Ryan was happy to do that for the team.

“To put Ryan at eight and move JT to lock, it changes everything, calls, line-outs, and we didn’t want to go down that path for a five-day turnaround. We think that Ryan has had enough game time now to warrant his place at the start. If we had two weeks then maybe we would do it differently, but we haven’t, so for the sake of not having to change everything, we’ve gone with it this way.”

The duo were advised of the decision simultaneously, along with the reasoning behind it, and Johnson says the response was exactly as he anticipated it would be:

“Ryan is a great team man, he has no issue at all with doing this for the team, which is exactly the kind of response we expected from him. They were both told the situation at the same time, we explained the logic to them and there were no issues.

“I promised JT at the start of the season that once a bloke gets the shirt, it’s up to the others to get it off him, and we are supporting his form as a coaching team. At the same time, we are acknowledging the work that Ryan has done, and the work that we’ve missed.

“Ryan has played there before, and I genuinely believe that after the World Cup we’ll probably see a bit more of him there. He’s such a brave and industrious player, the way the game is going he will give us a competitive edge, and we wanted as many good athletes out on the pitch as we can.”