Friends turned foes for Dragon Andrew Coombs
OSPREYS v DRAGONS (Tomorrow, KO 7.05)
ANDREW Coombs has spent the last few months joining forces with the core of the Ospreys’ pack, now he aims to get under their skin.
The 28-year-old is back on regional duty after playing a vital role in Wales’ Six Nations success.
Coombs joined forces with Ian Evans for the Tests against Ireland, France and Italy before losing his spot to Alun Wyn Jones, who formed an all-Ospreys second row partnership for the Scotland and England wins.
Having worked alongside the pair at close quarters, the Dragons man knows that they will be influential figures at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow.
“Ian and Alun Wyn are massive figureheads in the Wales squad, all the Ospreys boys are really,” he said.
“You listen when they speak and they have a massive influence on the way the Ospreys play. It will be exciting if I go up against them and I will give it everything I have got.
“They were playing in front of me in the last two games so there’s a point to prove.
“I have to play at my best to compete against them.”
Five of the pack that beat England ply their trade for the Ospreys while lock/back row James King and loosehead prop Ryan Bevington were unused members of the Six Nations squad.
The RaboDirect Pro12 champions also boast former internationals Duncan Jones, Ian Gough and Jonathan Thomas in their ranks, so Coombs knows the Dragons’ front eight will need to stand tall.
“The Ospreys are a powerful set of players and will look to go through the middle of us but there’s an opportunity for us, as a young group, to front up against the best.
“These are the games you look forward to. All of our boys will be really pumped up for the next two weeks (with the Scarlets to follow at the Millennium Stadium) and hopefully we can pick up some points.
“It’s not like those of us from the Six Nations squad are coming back and playing Zebre away, we’re playing big games that the Welsh selectors pick from. They are massive games for everyone involved. It will be a brutal encounter.”
Life has changed for Coombs this year and now, as a Wales international, he has added responsibility in aiding the development of the young talent in the Dragons’ ranks.
“It’s nice try to pass on some valuable knowledge and information onto these guys for when they make the step up,” he said.
“It’s surprising how much you learn (from being in the Wales set-up), I’m not one to keep things to myself and will be helping guys along.”