Alun Wyn Jones rallies Ospreys for big derby against Scarlets
ALUN Wyn Jones has urged the Ospreys to do the jersey proud when they take on a Scarlets side he describes as "title contenders" on Friday.
The Ospreys have begun their RaboDirect Pro12 title defence with three defeats from three so far, while the Scarlets' perfect start has seen them soar to the top of the table.
The reigning champions could be boosted by the return of Wales duo Adam Jones and Ryan Jones for the trip to Parc y Scarlets, and their captain Jones is expecting a tougher challenge than ever from the West Walians.
"They're a different proposition this season," he said.
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"The way they're going, they're definitely contenders for the title.
"It's going to be tough going down there. We're playing the top-of- the-table side at the bottom of the table. From the outside, it's always going to be a big game for the fans and we have to represent that with the way we play this weekend.
"They're a scalp for us and we'll be a scalp for them — it will always be that way."
The Scarlets won 22-14 when the sides met at Parc y Scarlets last December, but the Ospreys' chances of gaining revenge could be enhanced if Adam and Ryan Jones regain their fitness in time. Neither player has featured this season because of knee injuries, but Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys reckons they could be back for Friday's derby.
"There's a chance. It's more likely with Ryan than Adam," he said.
"There's a chance they could play but both of them will definitely be back in the next couple of weeks.
"Hopefully Jonathan Thomas will be available, but James King is going to be a little while off."
The Ospreys tend to be considered favourites for their derby clashes with the Scarlets, but this time it is the table-topping Llanelli region who are being heavily tipped to claim a second successive home win against the reigning Pro12 champions.
Steve Tandy's men have fallen well short of their expectations so far this season and, as captain, Jones insists there is no avoiding that harsh reality.
"We definitely haven't done the jersey proud so far this season," he added. "There's no hiding from that.
"I'm pretty passionate and I can be quite emotional at times. I'll make my thoughts felt.
"We weren't combative enough against Glasgow and there are a lot of guys who have worn this jersey thinking 'what's going on here at the moment'?
"We're only ten years old as a region but there have been a lot of quality players gone through this jersey and I'd imagine they're looking at us with raised eyebrows at the moment."
Meanwhile, the kick-off time for the Ospreys' trip to the Dragons on New Year's Eve has been moved from 7.05pm to 4.15pm.