Bennett keeping Ospreys conditioned for the

After coming through a gruelling period of four games on the road in two weeks, the Ospreys are now regathering at their Llandarcy HQ ahead of Friday's final Magners League game of the season.

Following on foam the unique challenges of getting the squad through back to back games against Biarritz, Ulster, Leinster and Munster, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Bennett has had to change the focus as he helps prepare the players for the game against Newport Gwent Dragons.

Speaking about the challenges faced during April, Bennett said that focus for the two weeks between the Biarritz and Munster had been more about looking after the players than pushing to the limit.

"When you've got four games in such a short space of time, it's all about trying to expediate as much recovery as possible between games" he said.

"You can look to do various things in those periods, but primarily, it's about trying to feed the players as much as possible, and try and get them to have as much decent rest as possible. They are the two most important things, eating and sleeping.

"After that, there are other things we'll do, like ice baths after games and swimming pool sessions the day after games, where we'll go in and try to swim and stretch in the water to loosen you up. There's also a theory that the water pressure itself on the body helps to take away some inflammation and reduce swelling, which obviously helps with recovery.

"Congested periods like that one are difficult only in that you are trying to get the players from game to game with as much left in the tank as possible. Obviously, the body takes a lot of stress over a short period like that, but you have to remember that these boys have a very high level of specific rugby fitness. Three games in a week can be very disadvantageous in terms of those games, but two or three weeks down the line it has a different impact, you come out of a trough into a very high peak, and we find ourselves in that period now."

With two weeks between games, it allows Bennett and his conditioning team to change focus, but again, he stresses that it is extremely important not to overload the players with work as they rely on good planning and the work already done to see them through.

"At this moment in time we should, in theory, have very good levels of specific fitness" he added.

"Even though we don't have a game for two weeks between Munster and the Dragons, we should be able to hold this peak through to the end of the season. We gave them a couple of days off at the start of last week, and a couple of days off at the end of the week to refresh themselves mentally more than physically which is important.

"In the middle of the week, it's about doing some very specific fitness work in the gym and on the field, just looking at maintaining our specific rugby fitness. There's no general work at the moment now, all our strength levels should stay there now until the end of the season. I's about maintaining explosive power, the ability to keep that power going for long periods of time, and general running patterns on the field.

"Any hard work we do now, where we push the players really hard is not going to bear us any fruit whatsoever over the next couple of games. We would be reaping the benefits a month down the line, which would be after our season has finished. Despite what people generally think, if you train hard on a Tuesday, unless you are exceptionally unfit, it doesn't make you better on the Saturday.

"It's about long term planning and careful consideration of the fixture list and the workloads we put the players through, as individuals and as a group. We put blocks of work in on specific times of the year and then lay-off at specific times, to manage those peaks and troughs that I talked about. To do that, we'll induce fatigue at particular times in the season, knowing that when we remove it fitness will go up. At this stage, it's about taking away that fatigue, mental as well as physical."