Bishop aiming to hold onto appearance record

While the majority of the Ospreys squad are away from Llandarcy on international duty or on their summer holidays, Andrew Bishop remains a day-to-day regular at the region's training HQ as he works hi

Having missed the final four months of the season Bishop has targetedbeing back to full fitness by the time his team-mates report for pre-season, with the first batch of non-internationals scheduled to return on 10th June.

As he continues his rehab under the watchful eye of the Ospreys medical team, Bishop said he's positive about joining up and playing a part from day one.

"It's going really well, things are on target for me to take part in pre-season" he said.

"I'm working really hard on my rehab and hopefully I'll be running again later this week. Things are looking positive at the moment. I've never really suffered much with injuries during my career thankfully. It was really disappointing to have to sit out four months of the season but I've just got to move on now and I'm looking forward to next season. The target is pre-season and I've got to crack on over the next few weeks to make sure I'm ready."

Renowned for his durability, Bishop has very rarely had to sit out the action for any prolonged period of time during his nine years as a first team regular. However, he says that he's been pleased by what he's seen from the team during the last four months or so, and what he has seen bodes well for next season:

"It's the first time in my career I've had to sit back for a long period of time and watch the game. It does give you a different perspective on things. It's been interesting to have a proper look at some of the boys who I train with every day. I think next season is going to be a good year for us because the injury problems we did have this season have allowed other boys to step up and show what they are about and that's a positive thing for us.

"If you look at centre, there's going to be real competition there next season. Myself and Becky missed chunks of the season and we've seen Spratty, Isaacs and Ben John do really well when they came in. Jonathan was rewarded by being called into the Welsh squad and I hope he does really well.

"Like I said, I'm going to be working really hard in pre-season. I want to be back playing and I want to get back in that jersey."

Bishop became the most capped Osprey of all time when he overtook Paul James last November, making his 181st appearance for the region against Edinburgh at Murrayfield. Having stretched his record tally to 188 prior to his injury, he has watched as team-mates Jonathan Thomas and Duncan Jones closed the gap, Thomas eventually joining him on 188 with Jones one behind by the end of the season. With next season in mind, Bishop has vowed to hold on to his position at the top of the appearance list, but first, he acknowledges, he needs to regain his place in midfield from the current incumbents of his position.

"I was relieved they didn't take the record" he said.

"I know that if I'm fit at the start of the season I can kick-on and stay ahead of everyone else so the work I'm doing now will hopefully put me in that position.

"I'm proud to be up there at the top of the appearances. I've been fortunate with injuries in my career but when you look at the rest of the boys near the top of the list they are all forwards. It's an incredible achievement for a forward in particular to play so many games and shows how durable these guys are and how professional they are. They deserve a lot of credit for that, but I don't want them to take my place at the top!

"200 is the next landmark, that would be a huge achievement if I can become the first Osprey to play 200 times. It's not going to be easy though, I'm still working to get back to fitness before the start of the season and then I'll have to shift the boys who've got the shirt at the moment. It makes things interesting, and the competition for places will make the Ospreys stronger."