ALUN Wyn Jones will aim to use the Ospreys’ Pro12 date with Connacht in Galway on Friday night to intensify Rob Howley’s Six Nations selection headaches.
Wales’s victory over France in Paris and the outstanding form of Andrew Coombs and Ian Evans have raised the possibility of the acting national coach sticking with the same team for the game with Italy a week on Saturday.
But there is a counter argument that a side should play their best players, and few would dispute that Jones is one of Wales’s top two locks.
He stepped back into rugby after three months out with a remarkable cameo against Ulster at Ravenhill last Friday, when he managed ten tackles in just 31 minutes on the pitch.
Now, Galway will give the 6ft 5in, 19st 2lb Test Lion the chance to once again nudge Howley.
The choice is anything but straightforward, with Evans standing tall against France with a mighty defensive effort and Coombs carrying the ball 25 times in the opening two rounds of the championship and putting in 21 tackles — statistics only bettered in the Wales squad by Toby Faletau.
The Ospreys will be aiming to build on their 16-12 triumph over league leaders Ulster, a match that saw a young side produce one of the finest performances in the region’s history, with Scott Baldwin, Joe Bearman, Morgan Allen, Ryan Bevington and Sam Lewis among those standing out.
“It was an unbelievable effort from the whole group,” enthused assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys.
“We were missing 23 players and to lose our most experienced forward, Ian Gough, before we’d even kicked off was a blow but we stuck at the job and got our rewards.
“Ulster are an outstanding team as we know and they had real quality on the pitch but we were deserved winners.
“Connacht will be another tough ask, but we’ll approach the game with the right attitude and intensity, the same as we approach every match, and we’ll be expecting this level of performance from the boys again because last Friday’s win will mean nothing if we don’t back it up.”
Gough is struggling to make the squad for Connacht because of the lower-leg injury he first sustained ahead of the Heineken Cup date with Treviso last month.