We’ve rounded up all the key points from Allen Clarke’s press conference this week ahead of the big Scarlets clash at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, (K.O.7.45pm).
Here’s what he had to say about…
Facing the Scarlets:
- You look at the games between the two sides over the last couple of years, they’ve been one-score games so we are under no illusions the level of performance that is going to be required on Saturday night.
- For us, it’s about focusing on what we do well. Obviously playing against the Scarlets, they’ve got good men down there, I’ve come across a few of them in my time here and I’ve got a lot of respect for what they’ve achieved. I know that we’ve got a good team here also.
- The battles on the field will be immense and it’s likely to be fine margins – a bounce of the ball, maybe a decision. We just hope that whatever we do, we leave everything out on the field.
- You’ve seen over the last number of weeks that there is a real buzz within our squad, we’ve come off the back of four wins on the bounce since the Six Nations period. We’ve really come up in the rails to get into this position and we want to ensure that we don’t trip ourselves up on the way. This week is, again, about getting the balance right of picking correctly for Saturday evening.
- In terms of style of play, where you are on the field determines a lot – the momentum of the ball, the quality of your starter players coming off your set-piece. We’ve scored a lot of tries recently and it’s easy to say that you’re going in with a running game, but you’ve got to judge the momentum. We’ve been smart with how we’ve played, and on the occasion when you need to kick, we kick and the importance of that is that we kick well and we chase well. Equally, when the Scarlets kick it’s important that we’re putting the pressure on and we knock them back.
- You only have to look at the number of representatives that they have in the Wales squad like we do, to imagine the quality that is going to be there for everyone to see in the knockout game – a game that is going to be massive for both teams, it’s a cup final.
Being in this position after the off field issues this season:
- It says a lot about the squad and everyone associated with the Ospreys. At a time where people had been released from contract, people had uncertainty whether they were going to have another contract or not, and then for us as a region to remain focused and to become galvanised, and to go on to win against the Dragons, to go to South Africa and do what we did.
- We went to the Cheetahs and kept them to two scores, no team has done that for two years. We went to the Kings and inflicted their worst home defeat ever. It wasn’t just about getting the wins; it was about how we went about our business both sides of the ball, we’ve been defending well and putting points on the board.
- If you can come through what we’ve come through it tells you a lot about the character. What is as pleasing is how we’ve played, whether we’ve been on the front foot or back foot; whether the scoreboard has been in our favour; whether we’ve been in times of adversity when we’ve been down to 14 men for 20-minutes of the second-half in the principality, I thought we looked in control. I thought that there was a real maturity about us.
- If you look at our last nine minutes against the Blues in the Principality, we’ve got a lineout in our 22 with 14-men, and its an all score game. We march our way up the field and we get the three points to win the game, and then we receive a restart control; we’re in absolute control. In terms of controlling the game, we didn’t necessarily need the win because the draw would have worked in our favour, but we worked the field tremendously and that’s all credit to the leaders within the team.
- A club with history in terms of the trophy cabinet has been exceptional; history in terms of representation for the Welsh squad and other squads has also been exceptional – both at Youth Level, Age-Grade and Senior Level in particular. You very much want to be a part of that and so, the fear of this place not existing as its own entity as the Ospreys is too special to me and I’ve only been here for 2 years, so I can only imagine what that has brought out in the players. Many of these boys have been brought up knowing the Ospreys and playing for the Ospreys, so if it’s got me, you can only imagine what it has got in those boys.
- It’s a team built on those people who are our supporter base. There’s a resoluteness about the people of this area, there’s a simplicity – and I mean that in the most complimentary way that I can word it – in how they go about their business. That honesty, that fight and that directness are real strengths of the area and I think that the Ospreys reflects the DNA of the area and it’s something that we want to embrace. I know that the boys are very proud to run out onto the pitch in the Liberty and we are desperate to put on a big performance on Saturday night.