Business as usual for Lyn Jones ahead of Liberty return
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones insists that it’s business as usual ahead of his Liberty Stadium homecoming.
Tomorrow the 49-year-old will face the Ospreys for the first time since his 2008 exit.
Former Neath boss Jones took the helm when the region was formed and his reign put the Anglo-Welsh Cup and two Magners League trophies in the cabinet in Swansea.
He laid the foundations for making the Ospreys the leading region in Wales and helped develop many members of the pack that have gone on to represent the Lions as well as their country.
It promises to be a special return but Jones denies it has any more significance than their previous RaboDirect Pro12 encounters with Ulster, Edinburgh, the Scarlets, Munster and Zebre.
“Was it one of the first fixtures I looked for? No,” he said.
“But I look forward to going down to the Liberty, I’ve not been there for a number of years and it will be nice to catch up with a number of people and see how the game has moved on there.
“Life moves on, nothing stands still and things evolve at lots of clubs. There are lots of the same characters there and I am sure the spirit is similar to when I was there, I hope it is.
“What is nice is that the memories of starting regional rugby at the Ospreys, it was an exciting time and there was an air of wanting to make the game bigger and better.”
A charge levelled at Jones was that his Ospreys side failed to deliver on the European stage.
That still rings true with the region looking to be doomed after just two rounds of the Heineken Cup following losses to Leinster and Northampton.
They also lost to Ulster at the Liberty Stadium in their last league game before European action.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how they bounce back,” said Jones. “They do a lot of talking privately about where they are and they have gone three games without victory and just the one try.
“It will be interesting to see what state they are in mentally and I expect a big opening 15 minutes from them, it’s whether we can weather that storm.
“When we played the Scarlets at Rodney Parade we got a good start, which helped us through the game.
“The Ospreys rely on a really big start before they get the big boys running with the ball and Dan Biggar kicking it.”
Ospreys forwards coach Chris Gibbes admitted that Jones’ return gives the game an added edge.
“That's probably part of the story for us in this game,” he said. “Lyn's obviously had a massive influence on Ospreys rugby over the time he was here.
“But this is a new era, a different team, a different management and a different focus. He's doing a great job with the Dragons, but we are focused on what we are about here.”
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