Alun Wyn Jones has been rewarded for another fine season
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones has more reason to celebrate after being named as the Welsh Rugby Writers' Association's Player of the Year but his Ospreys team-mate Aisea Natoga is facing a lengthy lay off after breaking his jaw.
Jones receives the award after a strong season for the Ospreys, Wales and the British & Irish Lions and just a few days after he was selected to skipper the RaboDirect PRO12 Dream Team.
The 28-year-old has featured in all bar one of Wales' nine internationals since the start of the season, only missing the convincing win over France at the last minute with a foot injury.
He skippered the Ospreys to a fifth-place finish in the PRO12 as they narrowly missed out on the play-offs and played in five of their six Heineken Cup fixtures against Leinster, Northampton and Castres.
The experienced second row ended last season on a major high having led the Lions to series glory in the third Test against Australia during the summer after he took over from the injured Sam Warburton in Sydney. Jones started all three Tests on his second Lions tour and returned home with an even greater reputation than before.
He narrowly beat off competition from fellow Ospreys and Wales stars Dan Biggar and Richard Hibbard for the writers' accolade and will now be hoping for even better news as he looks to help Wales shock the Springboks in South Africa next month.
Things aren't quite so rosy for Natoga, though, after he suffered the injury setback just moments after coming on for Jeff Hassler in the Ospreys' six-try thrashing of Connacht at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night. He won't now be available for Fiji's summer Tests with Italy, Tonga and Samoa and their World Cup qualifier with the Cook Islands.
"Aisea had an operation at the weekend and will have the injury reviewed at the end of this week after it has settled down, at which point we'll be in a better position to give a possible timeline for a return to play date," said Ospreys medical performance manager, Chris Towers.
The news is a big blow for Natoga after he featured 22 times for the Ospreys in his debut season in Wales, scoring eight tries and bagging hat-tricks in the PRO12 win over Cardiff Blues and the LV= Cup success against Sale.
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Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
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