As the Ospreys look to bounce back from Boxing Day's derby defeat at Parc Y Scarlets, Ryan Jones says that they will be looking to use their frustrations as motivation to fire their way to victory over Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium on New Year's Day (KO 6.30pm).
“It’s been a very difficult time for us” he said.
”We don’t often lose three consecutive matches and understandably we’re all hurting at the moment. If you look at all three games, we haven’t been that far off it, we’ve been competitive in every game and been a dropped pass or a wrong option away from overturning the scoreline.
“It’s incredibly frustrating for us as players, it really is, we are desperate to do well for the region, just as the fans are desperate for us to win, and we are working hard every day to get it right. The good thing is we aren’t talking about major issues, it’s about individual errors, accuracy, and needing to be more clinical.
“We know the areas we’ve fallen down, and we have to put them right. We can’t just talk about it though, we have to be true to our word and dig in as a team to get it right. What better way to bounce back than with a win over Cardiff Blues at the Liberty?”
The festive season in Wales is synonymous with local derbies and big crowds, and Jones says that it adds up to the perfect occasion for any rugby fan:
“It’s tradition isn’t it, Christmas rugby and local derbies? It makes for fantastic occasions and a great day out for fans, with family and friends, enjoying the game. It’s a time when people come together, meet up, and enjoy the company and the camaraderie of rugby and I think it’s something special.
“You’ll get families that are divided, with members supporting both sides, and people think it’s great to get out of the house and really enjoy themselves at the big game. It’s one of the sacrifices that professional sportspeople have to make, as players we have to have maybe quieter Christmas and New Year celebrations, but if I was a fan and not a player I know that I’d be looking forward to going to the Liberty and enjoying a beer at the game.
“Hopefully we’ll have the crowd and the atmosphere to match Boxing Day, and we’ll be aiming to start New Year with a bang.”
No matter what happens off the field, on it supporters can expect to see many of Wales’ top players going head-to-head in a virtual international trial match just a month ahead of the Six Nations as those who played alongside each other during the Welsh squad’s run to the Rugby World Cup semi-final look to nail down their place for the forthcoming test matches in February and March, a factor that Jones believes will contribute to what he expects to be a great match:
“Different things motivate people, get them up for the game, but that’s definitely a factor when it comes to a game like this” he explained.
“I’m a bit long in the tooth nowadays but that’s definitely a factor. The guys know each other well, we know what’s at stake in terms of the derby match and beating your rivals, which makes the fans happy, and I suppose there is an element of getting in a good performance against your international rival in front of the Wales coaches who’ll be watching.
“These games have a massive intensity. Anybody watching on Boxing Day would have seen that for themselves. That we lost wasn’t down to a lack of effort and everybody was feeling sore and bruised afterwards. It’s a difficult place to go and play against a good team, and unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the win. We left ourselves with a little bit too much to do and indiscipline allowed them to go and get a couple of late penalties that took the game away from us.
“There was a big crowd and a good atmosphere, their noisy fans just gave them an edge, which is what the derby matches are all about, and which is why it’s so important that we can create that kind of atmosphere at home, to help us get through tight games.
“Matches between us and the Blues invariably turn out to be great games, there are some quality players on both teams. They are exciting matches to be involved in or to watch as a fan and I wouldn’t expect this one to be any different.”