A round-up of the headlines from Tuesday’s press conference at Llandarcy Academy of Sport as Matt Sherratt looked ahead to the weekend’s action.
Backs Coach, Sherratt, spoke to the press ahead of the first game of the European Challenge Cup against Pau, at Liberty Stadium, K.O. 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s what he had to say about:
- We are looking to just keep building. The beauty of a change of competition is that it freshens things up a bit for the players and the coaches. You go from, especially after a derby, something that is very familiar, the players know each other, coaches know each other, you know each others style of play, to, especially against a French team, almost the unknown.
- The further you get in the Challenge Cup, the more of an exciting competition it becomes. You get some big knock-out games, and play against some of the best teams in Europe. Clermont are in the competition and we’ve got Stade Francais in our group so, you are also playing against some of the best teams and best players in the world.
- We will rest a few players, especially with those who are going to be internationally involved over the next twelve-months, but not wholesale changes. It’s a really good competition to test the strength in depth of your squad.
The Pau game this Saturday:
- Pau are a bit different because of their very New Zealand influence. Carl Hayman is their forwards coach, Conrad Smith helping out with their defence, and they have Colin Slade at 10. They are a little bit more structured than many of the French teams, so we are just going to wait and see what turns up.
- We have placed an emphasis this year on making the Liberty Stadium a very difficult place to come and play, so its an opportunity to show our fans, hopefully, some of the things we are building on from the weekend.
- It’s quite difficult to plan, because we don’t know what Pau’s selection will be. It almost makes it quite nice because we’ve had a good performance, granted the result wasn’t what we wanted, and we can build on that against a team where we can focus on ourselves a little bit more.
Health of the Squad:
- Sam Cross had a knock last week, but I’m not sure how that has reported. But there is nothing major that I know of yet.
- There’s nothing serious with Dan Lydiate and Dan Evans. I think Dan Evans had a little bit of a spasm in his hamstring, and Dan Lydiate’s injury was a bit of a stinger. They are only one or two week injuries, so around the next couple of weeks they’ll be fine to go.
- He’s available this weekend, so he may be in the match-day squad. Its not 100 per cent confirmed yet, we are just making sure that he gets through the week. It would be exciting, almost like a new signing.
- He’s had a serious injury, he’s still young, so for me, if he gets some game time at the weekend, comes through unscathed and he’s getting back into the flow of the game, that’s the priority.
- He’s been a real find for us. He’s come in from the Sevens, as someone who’s got a Sevens record. The question mark on everyone’s mind was whether he could transfer his Sevens form to Fifteens, but credit to Luke, he’s doing in the Fifteens, what he did in the Sevens. He tries to beat the first man, he’s exciting when he gets on the ball.
- More pleasingly for coaches is that his pendulum work is really good. He works the back-field really well, he reads opposition kicker’s body language really well, he’s defended pretty well. So the stuff we had question marks on, he’s stepped up to the plate and he’s obviously shown glimpses that he can cause problems for defences.
- Its now about getting Sam to play regularly. If Sam plays seven, eight, nine games on the trot, then it’s of more benefit than having a hundred training sessions. He’s playing well, plus he’s getting better at the moment. We’ve agreed the things he needs to work on, and genuinely every week he’s getting better at it.
- His kicking game is excellent, and I thought he showed real maturity away against Zebre where he slotted three-points with a drop goal, and playing in the right areas. On the flip side of that, when the game broke-up against the Scarlets, he showed some of his attacking flair. He’s definitely got potential to play for Wales, but for now let’s concentrate on him playing for the Ospreys.
- I’m pretty pleased with how the back-line is working. I felt, during the first twenty-minutes at the weekend, we gave the Scarlets a little bit too much respect. We maybe got the balance of our game slightly wrong. There were four or five forwards carries, to every backs carry. I think once the backs grew in confidence, and we got Sam, George and Cory Allen on the ball, we looked a more balanced team.
- They’ve got to trust their instinct and back their ability more. If they feel something is on, back their instinct and call it. From my perspective, if they are backing themselves and going for it, I don’t mind if they make a mistake, its my responsibility to help them with that.