As the new season edges ever nearer, Andrew Bishop has revealed how he hopes Director of Coaching Scott Johnson will help him to show the rugby world his attacking skills over the course of the coming campaign.
23-year old Bishop, who bagged one of the Ospreys two tries in the famous win over Leicester Tigers in the 2008 EDF Energy Cup Final win at Twickenham, has developed a reputation as a solid defensive centre since breaking into the side as a teenager in the latter stages of the 2004/05 season.
The following season he helped himself to a brace of tries in the first ever Magners League game at the Liberty Stadium, a 22-20 win over Leinster on the opening weekend, showing glimpses of his attacking ability but it his for his defensive work that he continues to receive plaudits. However, he says that he feels he has more to his game than just defence, and he believes that 'Johnno' will be able to help him unlock that potential.
"Last season was a good one for me and I want to build on that this coming season. The press seem to have focused on the strength of my defensive game and I've been labelled as a defensive player; It doesn't really bother me, I think that I've got other strengths to my game and I hope that this season I can show people that I'm about more than just defence. Working with Scott Johnson will certainly help, the boys who have worked with him for Wales in the past have spoken about what he brings to the attacking game and I'm looking forward to him helping me bring that side of my game on. Obviously, everyone has areas to work on, and if he can help me show this season what I can do on the attacking side of things I'll be pleased.
"I think I've moved forward year-on-year, and I want it to be the same this season. I had a good year last season, I made the step up into the Wales squad but I know that I can't assume that my place is safe. I'd love to be involved in the autumn and to get more game time in the Six Nations than I did this year, but that will depend on how I perform for the region between now and then. There's a long time before the first Welsh game this season and a lot of rugby for the Ospreys to be played so I have to show that I'm worthy of a place here before I can worry about Wales. Regional rugby is our bread and butter, it's where international selection starts and ends."
Having made his senior international debut on the 2008 summer tour to South Africa, Bishop has since taken his caps tally to six after starting both tests on the recent trip to Canada and the USA. With his appetite for the international game clearly whetted, he is understandably looking to add to his caps next season. However, with competition for places at the Ospreys high, he realises that the first challenge ahead of him over the coming months is to ensure he nails down a starting place at the Liberty Stadium. He added:
"Training at the Ospreys is almost like an international trial in itself, with so many guys here already involved with Wales and quality players like Tommy Bowe and Nikki Walker also in the squad. You've also got people coming through in the centre position like Ashley Beck and Gareth Owen who have got massive potential to go all the way so there is competition everywhere.
"The standard in training is very high and it is helping to drive players forward. Anyone who takes anything granted, who sits back and just expects to be handed a place will soon get caught out as someone else will step up and take their place. The thing about having options in the squad and strength in depth, is you don't know where that threat is coming from, it could be one of the more established guys or it could come from one of the younger players being developed at the Ospreys. Competition keeps everyone on their toes and means that there is a good work ethic here instead of people thinking their place is safe so they can just cruise through training and get selected at the weekend."