Ryan returns - but no place for Lion Evans
THE Ospreys have shown how much Ryan Jones means to them by firing him straight into their Heineken Cup clash with Leinster tonight.
Jones has played just half a game of rugby since March — against Treviso on the opening weekend of the campaign — as he has battled against a series of injuries.
But the Ospreys clearly believe they need him in their ranks as they tackle the former European champions.
Jones will figure at blindside at the Liberty this evening (6pm) — but there is no place in the squad for Ian Evans.
The British Lion has been left out of the matchday 23, with James King taking his place in the second row.
It is a big call by Steve Tandy, though King's form in the early weeks of the Pro12 season meant it would be difficult to leave him on the sidelines.
The Ospreys name their four other 2013 Lions, with Alun Wyn Jones leading the side, as they look to bounce back from losing at home to Ulster last week, their first reverse of the season.
But their hopes have been lifted with Leinster missing their talisman Brian O'Driscoll.
Tandy said: "You can't underestimate what Leinster have achieved in Europe over the last five years. They've got a fantastic record and have quality right through the squad, including five 2013 Lions.
"It really doesn't get much tougher.
"After disappointing a big crowd last weekend, we have to move up several levels. We've got big-game players in the group who I know will respond to the challenge, and it's important they've got another big crowd behind them to feed off.
"It's going to be the biggest crowd of the season. We've had some great European nights there over the years and this can be right up there on the list if we get it together, on and off the field. It should be a pretty special occasion."
The two sides have developed a great rivalry in the Pro12, with the Ospreys claiming Grand Final wins over Leinster in 2010 and 2012.
Ospreys chairman Roger Blyth said: "Leinster have been the dominant force in European cup rugby over the last five years, with three Heineken Cup wins, a runners-up spot and an Amlin Cup title in that time.
"That record is one that has to be admired, whoever you are.
"This is the first time we've ever met them in the Heineken Cup and there is a bit of added spice to the occasion.
"There are ten of this summer's Lions in the two squads, plus so many other quality players, it is building up to be a titanic battle."
Ospreys: R. Fussell, B. John; A. Bishop, A. Beck, E. Walker; D. Biggar, T. Tebaldi; D. Jones, R. Hibbard, A. Jones, A. W. Jones (capt), J. King, R. Jones, J. Bearman, J. Tipuric. Reps: S. Baldwin, R. Bevington, A. Jarvis, T. Ardron, S. Lewis, T. Habberfield, M. Morgan, J. Hassler.
Leinster: R. Kearney, F. McFadden; B. Macken, G. D'Arcy, D. Kearney; J. Gopperth, I. Boss; C. Healy, S. Cronin, M. Ross, D. Toner, M. McCarthy, K. McLaughlin, J. Heaslip (capt), S. O'Brien. Reps: A. Dundon, J. McGrath, M. Moore, Q. Roux, R. Ruddock, E. Reddan, I. Madigan, L. Fitzgerald.