Ashley handed captain’s armband

The Ospreys will be led into action in the opening weeks of the new season by second row, Lloyd Ashley, after he was confirmed as captain in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones.

The 24-year old previously skippered the region at age-grade level and in the LV= Cup, before taking the captain’s armband for last season’s PRO12 opener against Treviso, and then again during the 2014 autumn international period.

Now, form and fitness permitting, Ashley is set to captain his home region for an extended period with Alun Wyn and his international colleagues away for the Rugby World Cup that kicks off in a month’s time.

Confirming the appointment Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said that Ashley was the natural choice to step into Jones’ boots.

“With Alun Wyn away, Lloyd is a great fit to lead the team” he said.

“He gives everything for the cause, whether it is in training, behind the scenes, or playing a match, and he really does follow Alun Wyn’s lead to take up the mantle while the internationals are away.

“Lloyd is growing in stature within the environment, he now has the experience to go with his natural leadership abilities, and he will do an excellent job as captain as we start the season.

“A good communicator, he is happy challenging others or being challenged himself, a characteristic we value highly in this environment as it doesn’t allow complacency to set in. He demands the highest standard at all times, from himself and from his colleagues, and as he has shown before when given the opportunity to lead the team, has the potential to be an excellent Ospreys captain.”

Tandy was quick to stress that with 13 senior players still absent on World Cup duty the onus was on those back at Llandarcy to step up and assist Ashley over the coming weeks. He said:

“It’s not just about Lloyd leading the team. It’s important that other players step up and play their part. We’re in a pretty good place when it comes to natural leaders, we’ve created an environment that allows individuals to thrive and we’ve developed or recruited well.

“You look at the squad and it’s pretty clear that Lloyd will have plenty of support across the park, despite the youthfulness of the wider squad. There are people like Bearman and Delve in the back row, natural leaders who people will follow, and in the middle you have Spratt and Beck.

“Sam Parry has impressed, stepping up this summer and taking control of the scrum, while we have Sam Davies at 10 who, although still very young, is tactically and technically astute and will help Lloyd in terms of game control, as will our three nines.

“It’s an exciting mix that will help to ensure we are in a good place in terms of leadership in these opening weeks.”

Ashley’s first duty will be to represent the region at next Monday’s PRO12 launch event in London, before leading the team into action when the rugby starts, beginning with the pre-season game against Saracens next Thursday.

The PRO12 season begins away to Ulster on Friday 4th September, with Munster visiting the Liberty Stadium on Sunday 13th September for the first home game, kicking off at 2.30pm.

Tickets for the Munster game, and all home games up to New Year’s Day versus the Dragons, are on sale now.

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