Paul James relishing Ospreys pack reunion when Wales face Scotland in Six Nations clash
PAUL James is relishing the prospect of linking up with his former Ospreys team-mates when Wales face Scotland on Saturday.
Apart from loose-head prop James, who left the Liberty Stadium to join Bath last summer, Wales will field an all-Ospreys tight five at Murrayfield.
The front row of James, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones, together with the second rows Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans, boast a mammoth 246 caps between them.
And with another Osprey, Wales captain Ryan Jones, adding another 72 caps at blindside flanker, the reigning RaboDirect Pro12 champions will certainly be making their presence felt at Murrayfield.
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"It's an all-Osprey front five with one ex-Osprey," said James.
"It has been nice to go into the scrum in training with those guys. It's great.
"If you look at Scotland's games so far they've done really well in the scrums. If we can get a good platform going forward, we all know what we've got behind the scrum.
"If we can dominate up front, that's going to put us on the right step forward."
This is not the first time a Welsh pack has been dominated by Ospreys. When they beat England 26-19 in 2008, Wales fielded seven Ospreys forwards and 13 in the overall starting line-up at Twickenham.
James may no longer play for the Ospreys but, as a player who once held the record number of appearances for the region, the prop is still held in high regard at the Liberty.
The 30-year-old has been in excellent form following his move to Bath, and he believes his time at The Rec has made him a better player.
"I think it has improved me," he said.
"I think playing in the Aviva Premiership is a bit closer to international rugby in its intensity. It's just a more physical league to play in.
"Then when you move to international rugby the standards step up again, the physicality steps up. Premiership rugby is just that one stop closer.
"I think that has improved my game and it is starting to show a bit. I played for the Ospreys for 10 years and, when you are at one club for so long, maybe you get a little stale. Going out to Bath is a great place and it's just given me a fresh start."
James and his ex-Ospreys colleagues will be reunited with another familiar face this weekend, with region's former coach Scott Johnson now in charge of Scotland.
Johnson is renowned for his colourful quotes and tendency to wind up opponents, and James knows exactly what to expect.
"I know he likes to chuck a few riddles out to the press," he said. "You sort of understood as a player.
"Everybody knows what he's talking about, it's just the way he puts it across.
"He can be good as well, it's different.
"It keeps you on your toes as a player."