Alun Wyn rested by the Ospreys for Stade clash
OSPREYS head coach Allen Clarke has opted to rest Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, but the remainder of his international stars are named in a strong line-up to take on Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup at the Liberty Stadium today (3pm).
While Jones is given a wellearned break following his exploits during the autumn series, Clarke is taking no chances on home soil and includes the likes of George North, Scott Williams, Aled Davies, Nicky Smith, Adam Beard and skipper Justin Tipuric in his starting XV.
There are just three personnel changes from the side that thumped Zebre 43-0 in Swansea last time out.
Lloyd Ashley comes in to partner Beard in the second row, Ma’afu Fia gets the nod at tight-head prop, while in the only switch behind the scrum, Cory Allen is named in midfield with Owen Watkin dropping to the bench.
The Ospreys have had a mixed start to their pool campaign, with a bonus-point win over Pau followed by defeat in Worcester. But, they remain firmly in the mix for qualification, just three points behind the Warriors in Pool 2.
Clarke said: “The next five games is an important period for us as a club, with European fixtures and big derby matches ahead. Whist challenging it is particularly exciting for the players, staff and no doubt our supporters.
“The performance and result against Zebre was satisfying but there is an inherent desire to keep improving as individuals and as a team.”
Stade are without French internationals Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Jules Plisson, Yoann Maestri and Fijian flyer Waisea Nayacalevu. Ospreys: D Evans; G North, S Williams, C Allen, L Morgan; S Davies, A Davies; N Smith, S Baldwin, M Fia, L Ashley, A Beard, O Cracknell, J Tipuric (capt), S Cross. Reps: S Otten, R Jones, T Botha, J King, G Volpi, T Habberfield, J Hook, O Watkin. Stade Francais: T Ensor; Jarias, M Hingano, A Arrate, J Yobo; M Steyn, C Daguin; S Clement, L Sempere (capt), G Melikidze, M De Giovanni, A Flanquart, S Nicolas, H Stassen, R Chapuis. Reps: L Panis, S Fisiihoi, M Alo Emile, W Alberts, C Francoz, A Warner, L Etien, D Camara. Referee: Tom Foley (Eng).
Alun Wyn Jones gets a well-deserved break.