Alun Wyn Jones: Ospreys to wait for Lion lock's return

Alun Wyn Jones receives a traditional Maori greeting in New Zealand
Alun Wyn Jones has been a Test lock on three successive Lions tours

Lock Alun Wyn Jones is expected to be the last of Ospreys' 2017 British and Irish Lions tourists to return to action in the forthcoming season.

Jones started all three Tests against New Zealand, while scrum-half Rhys Webb came off the bench in each of them.

Fly-half Dan Biggar and flanker Justin Tipuric did not play in the Tests.

"You'd expect someone like Alun Wyn to be last [to return] with the amount of rugby he's played," said new Ospreys forward coach Allen Clarke.

"The likes of Tips and Rhys will be a little bit earlier, but that's going to be - I would suggest - more the middle of September and thereafter."

The revamped Pro14 season awaits the Lions quartet and Clarke is relishing the prospect of working with 31-year-old Jones, who has won 110 Wales caps and nine more for the Lions.

Jones faced social media and pundit criticism after the Lions lost the first Test against New Zealand and Clarke was impressed by his response as Warren Gatland's tourists fought back to draw.

"Alun Wyn in particular probably epitomises what an Osprey player is about," said former Ulster hooker and forwards coach Clarke.

Jones 'showed resilience'

"He may have come under a little bit of criticism, but he built into the series and his performance improved, he showed resilience, he blocked out what wasn't important, he focused on what is important.

"And I haven't had any direct conversation with him.

"I was looking as an outsider, as a supporter of the Lions, but obviously as someone who wanted to see Ospreys players do particularly well.

"And I felt it was fantastic, where he ended up, the contribution he showed, particularly in Tests two and three."

Clarke also says Wales back-rows Dan Lydiate (knee) and James King (ankle) are "making good progress" as they target returning in the new season.

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