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Ryan back to his best, insists Scott.

WELSH rugby will see a new Ryan Jones this season.

That is the prediction of Ospreys boss Scott Johnson, who says the Wales skipper is looking back to his best.

It's been a tough year for Jones, who missed out on selection for the original Lions squad and was then forced home injured within 48 hours of arriving in South Africa as a replacement. But Johnson says the 28-year-old back rower is fit and raring to go as the new season approaches.

"Ryan's test results have been the best they have been in years," said the Aussie coach, who worked with Jones during Wales' 2005 Grand Slam campaign.

"I was fortunate enough to see him at his international best and I remember that well.

"We've had the results back from his testing and we are back where we need him to be. Physically, he's the best I've seen for three or four years.

"There is a chance for him to perform. He was playing a bit injured last year and has had a couple of tough years.

"He has come off some horrific injuries, but, if we get him on the field fit and ready, we might see a new Ryan Jones."

It's also a new start for Johnson, who has taken up the reins as the Ospreys' director of coaching having left his previous job with the USA Eagles.

There will be a lot of interest in what style of play he brings to the Liberty Stadium, with the colourful Aussie having forged a reputation as a skills guru during his four years as part of the Wales coaching set-up.

"Look, I think everyone knows how I like to play rugby," he commented.

"But we want to find something that's ours. We've got to find a style that we are comfortable with and play to our strengths.

"Our target is to go out there and play as best we can. We'll be well prepared and we'll put on a good show and, if that's good enough, that will be great."

Ospreys fans will get their first chance to see Johnson's influence at work today when Leeds visit the Liberty for the opening pre-season friendly (2.30pm).

There will also be a first opportunity to run the rule over new recruits Jerry Collins, Barry Davies, Tom Isaacs, Liam Davies and Ross Davies.

Head coach Sean Holley said: "The new coaching team has gelled well and this will be the first opportunity to test out some of the systems we have put in place, and to review and analyse the players progress in the process."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 22, 2009
Words:434
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