As his third pre-season as an Osprey draws to a close, Richard Fussell says he's looking forward to an end to the phoney war and getting down to the real business of defending the RaboDirect PRO12 title.
After a typically hard summer slog, the 28-year old from Merthyr is ready to get the PRO12 underway with Friday night’s trip to Treviso.
“It’s been a long hard pre-season but it’s gone well and I’m feeling pretty good to be honest.
“We’ve done a lot of hard work on our fitness levels in pre-season and getting our game prepped up ready for the start of the PRO12, and we want to make sure that we spend the next few days getting our heads right to go to Treviso and get a positive start out there.
“Pre-season is always tough and this year is no exception, but it does bring you closer together as a team. Everyone is eager and ready to go against Treviso at the weekend now.”
With the coaches taking the chance to look at more than 40 players in action during the games against Clermont Auvergne and Bath, Fussell believes that despite two defeats, there are plenty of positives to take from those games that will help the Ospreys flourish this season.
“It’s a strange time of the year really” said Fussell.
“You are trying to take the things you do on the training pitch, fine tune them, and transfer them into a match situation. That’s been the main thing for us. Not everything works as you’d hope and it can be frustrating but it’s important that you keep things in perspective, as a player, coach or supporter.
“We’ve had a good look at a lot of different people and combinations, with two completely different matchday squads, and a lot of young players have had a chance as well. That’s as important as anything else, giving these young guys coming through a go so the coaches know if they are ready to step up or not should they be needed to play at any stage. It’s an important time of the year for everyone in many ways, not just for fitness or getting game plans sorted out like people think.”
With so many youngsters involved over the 160 minutes of pre-season action supporters are keen to see who will become this year’s Beck, Dirksen or Tipuric, taking their chance to not only stake a claim for the Ospreys jersey but to establish themselves as crowd favourites, and Fussell for one is looking forward to the impact the new faces will make:
“There are young guys like Matthew Morgan, who’s always exciting to watch, people like Tom Grabham who is an exciting prospect switching from a nine to the wing and scoring a try against Bath, he’s got electrifying pace and good skills. It’s also good to have Jonathan Spratt back this year with his experience. He’s a quality player and will bring something different, especially with the benefit of his year with London Irish.
“There are youngsters coming through across the park now, with young forwards also developing well and starting to bring a bit of pressure on the more established players. It bodes well for the future. It’s up to older players like myself to rise to the challenge and to help drive the Ospreys forward again this season.”