He may have only celebrated his 26th birthday last month, but Andrew Bishop is very much one of the old heads in the Ospreys squad during the Rugby World Cup period as he approaches his 150th appearance for the region
The hard-tackling centre may have missed out on a place in Warren Gatland’s squad for the tournament in New Zealand, but he has been at the heart of everything good about the Ospreys early season wins over Leinster and Edinburgh, leading by example in a backline with a starting average age of just 22.
One of the region’s most consistent performers for many seasons, Bishop has already clocked up 144 appearances in an Ospreys shirt, and he says that his colleagues in a youthful backline are giving him plenty of ribbing for his apparent advancing years!
“Becky did joke with before the game on Saturday, saying I was the oldest” he said.
“But Richard Fussell has got a couple of years on me!
“Seriously though, it is great to see so many youngsters in the shirt. Looking at them, their ages, it is unbelievable how mature they are already, how professional they are in everything they do. It’s great for Ospreys Rugby, and hopefully they will go on to have a long and successful career with the region, although I’m sure there’ll be more players coming through behind them that will be after their places very soon.
“It’s great having all the youngsters coming through, local boys who have pride in playing for the Ospreys. When we scored the winner at the end last Saturday it was really emotional, you could see how much it meant to everyone. It’s a good place to be at the moment and it can only get better. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do this season. I can’t wait to pull on the jersey again.”
With two wins in the opening two fixtures, against Leinster and Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium, Bishop says that there is reason to be relatively pleased with the start to the season. However, he is well aware that there is a lot of hard work still required to iron out some areas of the Ospreys game. He said:
“It’s gone pretty well so far. The boys are working hard in training and there’s a good energy about the place and a good work ethic. We are trying to build on what has been a decent start for us, two wins from two, but we know that there’s plenty of room for us to improve based on our performances so far.
“We set ourselves targets for each game, and we realise that we continually need to improve. We did a lot of good things last weekend but we did a lot wrong as well and still got the win. If you can get the wins when you aren’t getting everything right then great, but we can’t accept the performance, we’ve got to keep working hard to get rid of the mistakes in our game.”
According to Bishop, the hard work on the training field has already reaped rewards with the belief in each other that is essential to any winning team meaning that the players retained their faith when a man short and under pressure close to their own line with the score looked at 19-all in the closing minutes of the win over Edinburgh:
“I don’t think it ever was the case that we thought about just hanging on” he insisted.
“I think we are all aware that we can go the length of the field and score a try like we did on Saturday if we do the basics right, so the belief is always there.
“We have enjoyed a good pre-season, everyone has worked really hard, and it’s built that belief in each other.”
Next up for the Ospreys is a difficult trip to northern Italy to face Benetton Treviso and Bishop recognises that the correct approach to the game is essential:
“There’s a lot of teams have gone over there in the last year expecting to win but that’s not the right mentality to have at all, they’ve been caught out cold. You have to put the effort in to get anything out of it. We know we’re in for a tough game, it’s going to be hard at the breakdown and they are going to compete everywhere on the pitch.
“We know what we’ve got to do. We’ll work hard to put the things right that we didn’t do on Saturday and by playing as a team hopefully we’ll get the result we need.”