Ospreys' Lions can point the way forward in new campaign, says Chris Gibbes
THE Ospreys' five Lions will step back on to the pitch next week with new forwards coach Chris Gibbes saying they can point the way forward for the region this season.
Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Ian Evans, Richard Hibbard and Justin Tipuric are poised to resume rugby-related training for the first time since their triumphant campaign in Australia with the best of British and Irish rugby.
Four of the five featured in the series victory over the Wallabies, with Alun Wyn Jones leading the tourists to their decisive 41-16 third Test success in Sydney, and Gibbes is in no doubt about how much value they will bring to the Ospreys in the campaign ahead.
"It's just great that they are coming into training next week, because the experience those guys will bring to assist our young guys is something I'm looking forward to," he said.
"I'm hugely excited to be working with the Lions.
"I'm looking forward to those boys coming back and adding massive value to the team and taking leadership roles within the squad."
Gibbes continued: "It's pretty special for any club to supply five Lions, four of whom made the Test side, and Alun Wyn was captain.
"It was pretty awesome for the region. From a club point of view, it's something we are proud of."
Gibbes will not be trying to reinvent the wheel at the Ospreys, with the New Zealander believing the region's forward game is already strong enough for them to compete against any opposition.
Ahead of the friendly with Worcester Warriors in Swansea this afternoon, he said: "The style won't change much.
"If you look at the Ospreys historically, they've had good systems in place and done pretty well.
"I'm here to add a few bits and pieces, but overall there won't be much change.
"Will it be a challenge to replace Jonathan Humphreys? Every experience is an opportunity, but what I will say is that Humphs has left a pretty awesome legacy with the forward play and with the players' attitude.
"To come in after someone like that is always going to be difficult.
"The key thing is that I have come in with my eyes and ears open. I'd be a foolish man to try to change everything. It's just a matter of adding to what's been done before."
The Ospreys reunite an old Aberavon partnership against Worcester, with Ashley Beck and Ben John lining up alongside each other for the first time since their days with the Wizards. The link should prove complementary, blending Beck's creative ability with John's directness.
"I'm looking forward to play alongside Ashley again," said John.
"We came through the under-16s, under-18s and under-20s together, so we're used to each other's rugby.
"We also spent a few years in Aberavon together. He is more of a playmaker and it went well alongside him in the past."
John took a significant leap forward last term, playing in a dozen games, including a Heineken Cup tie.
His aim this term is to continue to progress and become established in a centre pool that includes internationals in Beck, Andrew Bishop and Jonathan Spratt.
"It's all about trying to gain experience," he said.
"I featured a fair bit on the wing last term, so it will be nice to play in midfield against Worcester.
"The goal for me this season is to have a bit more game-time."