Ospreys to welcome back veteran lock Ian Gough
VETERAN lock Ian Gough will add his 16 years of top-level experience to a rookie Ospreys line-up for this evening's LV= Cup clash at Exeter (5).
The 36-year-old Wales international has been absent since the home defeat to Glasgow in early September because of illness.
But he is back in the fold for the testing trip to Sandy Park as the Pro12 champions look to build on their last-gasp victory over Gloucester at the Liberty last weekend.
"It is great to have Goughie back," said forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys.
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"During these periods you can't just chuck 15 young kids in there so having that experience around them allows these kids to have a crack.
"He is an aspiring coach, does a lot of work with age grade teams and his experience is good for us."
While Gough and skipper Joe Bearman take on the role of the elder statesmen in the side, the focus of head coach Steve Tandy is very much on youth.
Fly-half Sam Davies, lock Sam Williams and flanker Arthur Ellis are set to make their first starts for the region, while 18-year-old hooker Scott Otten will have his first
starts for the region, while 18-year-old hooker Scott Otten will have his first taste of regional rugby if he comes off the bench.
“The Chiefs are a tough side and we are going down there with a young forward pack so it is going to be a huge challenge for them, but it is part of the season when we are looking to see what we have got,” added Humphreys.
Scrum-half Tom Habberfield, who made a big impression off the bench against Gloucester, starts in place of Rhys Webb, although the region have opted to rest openside Sam Lewis ahead of next weekend’s league clash at Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, Humphreys insists the management have not yet made the decision on who will lead the side in the absence of Wales and British Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones, who is facing up to four months on the sidelines because of the shoulder injury he suffered against Argentina last Saturday.
“We haven’t made that decision,” he added. “We have got a lot of experience within the group. It is not something we will dwell on. We have plenty of candidates.
“It is a massive blow to lose Alun, who is not only a world-class forward but our captain, and he has been excellent for us this year.
“Fingers crossed the rest of the boys will come back from the autumn series in decent shape for the Toulouse game because we will probably only have two sessions with them before that match.”
Exeter: M. Dorrian; J. Nowell, N. Sestaret, S. Hill, M. Foster; H. Slade, J. Poluleuligaga (capt); L. Cowan-Dickie, J. Yeandle, H. Tui, D. Welch, W. Carrick-Smith, J. Blanchet, D. Ewers, J. Conlon. Reps: N. Clark, B. Moon, A. Brown, A. Muldowney, S. Simmonds, R. Coote, J. Tatupu, I. Whitten.
Ospreys: Ross Jones; T. Grabham, B. John, J. Spratt, W. Price; S. Davies, T. Habberfield; M. Thomas, M. Dwyer, O. Williams, I. Gough, S. Williams, J. Bearman (capt), M. Allen, A. Ellis. Reps: S. Otten, R. Bevington, N. Thomas, L. Peers, J. King, R. Webb, M. Morgan, T. Isaacs.