Ospreys: Ian Evans to start against Leinster
IAN Evans will be propelled back into the Ospreys' starting line-up for the Pro12 clash with champions Leinster tomorrow (6.15pm) — the first of the region's Lions to begin a game this season.
As expected, Ryan Jones will be absent for the match in Dublin after injuring his right shoulder against Treviso.
But line-out ace Evans is ready to go in his place, with the 6ft 8in lock having worked his way up to speed after a couple of appearances as a replacement.
And further good news for the Ospreys is that Jones's bump isn't as bad as first feared.
The 32-year-old forward, who was returning after six months out with shoulder trouble, suffered a painful injury at Stadio Monigo and looked in acute discomfort on the sidelines, sparking concern he may require another lengthy lay-off.
But those worries have since been allayed with the problem found to be an impact injury and nothing more.
It could even mean Jones plays a part against Edinburgh at the Liberty a week tomorrow.
"Ryan has a shoulder problem but it is nothing major," said Ospreys forwards coach Chris Gibbes.
"He won't be ready for the Leinster match but we hope he will be available for next weekend."
Evans, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones came off the bench in the 24-19 win over Treviso, making a big contribution in a hard-fought final quarter.
Gibbes didn't specify which of them would be starting this weekend but he did drop a broad hint it would be Evans. "Maybe one of the Lions will start," he said.
"With Ryan out we just have to make sure we get the right balance.
"You don't know how the game will evolve, but the plan is to get all three of the Lions we used last week on the pitch again.
"Player welfare is at the centre of our discussions because they have come back from a hell of a trip and had a lot of rugby. It is about making sure they are right when they come in and give 100 per cent.
"It is about making sure we manage them correctly and find the right formula.
"They made an awesome impact off the bench in Italy.
"That said, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric won't be involved at all against Leinster.
"We have not got a date for them but hope they could be involved next week."
Leinster are on a run of nine successive victories, a sequence that includes a 37-19 win over the Ospreys in the final round of games last season.