A round-up of the headlines from Tuesday’s pre-Scarlets press conference at Llandarcy Academy of Sport.
Head Coach, Allen Clarke, spoke to the press ahead of this weekend’s local derby against the Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets, (Saturday 3pm KO).
Here’s what he had to say about:
The health of the squad:
- There are still a few boys with bumps and bruises from the game last weekend against Zebre. We modified the training programme at the beginning of the week to accommodate this, but we are hopeful that we will have strong side out on Saturday.
- Tom Habberfield took a bang to the oesophagus during the game against Zebre, so we are just waiting to see how that resolves. He trained this morning, but it is still a question mark. It was accidental, there was no malice in it.
- For us, getting through to where we are at this stage after five games, we see this as a test. We go to a side that has been at the top of PRO14 rugby and, indeed, European rugby last year, so its definitely going to be a real test for us, and a bench mark of how far we’ve come.
- Aled has come in and shown that he is a winner, he’s got an edge and he is ambitious, but he is equally a good team person. I see him working with the other nines, and that healthy competition within the group stimulates and drives performance, and as a nine within our team he brings a quality skill set that gets us moving.
- The mental aspect of the game is critically important. You have to have trust and believe in the guy beside you, know that he has got your back and that you’ve got his back, that he will perform his role under pressure and that he can live those moments when you are under the cosh, when you’re surviving. Equally, when you get those opportunities, that you grab those opportunities.
- I enjoy every game, but when the fixture list first comes out, everyone’s looking at the first round of derbies. There is an extra buzz around the community. Wales’ rugby family is quite clustered and as a result of that, I’m living in an environment where there are a number of Scarlets fans and equally, a number of Ospreys fans. That rivalry is daily and it comes to boiling point at 3 o’clock on Saturday. You can’t help but get caught up in it.
- It’s well documented the number of tries the Scarlets score in their outside backs and off broken-field play. But you can’t do that without a good pack, so the principles of the game in terms of possession to go forward, that starts and finishes upfront. I look at that Scarlets pack, they didn’t get to the final of the PRO14 or the semi-finals of the European Cup without having a platform, so the challenge for us is to go to their ground and take them on, and equally see how we can impact our game upon them.
- Luke Morgan certainly has shown a consistency and a progression, and we are delighted with how he’s responded. We played him in a number of pre-season games, and a number of A-games to give him that foot hold with less pressure on him. I thought he was tremendous in his first home game, I thought he was tremendous in Munster first and foremost, and as a result of that he’s been selected on merit. It’s important to have competition throughout.
- Luke’s relatively new to the 15s but what he is doing on the ball is exciting, and he’s got that X-factor which is what you need as an outside back, as a winger, but equally it’s his work off the ball, his reads in defence, his back-tracking, his grass-field cover. We’ve been delighted with how well he’s picked up the roles within the back three and as a result of that, he’s in a good place.
- Keelan is back training with us now, fully, and the longer we can give him the better, obviously, returning from the injury that he had. We’d like to think that towards the next period of games, within the next two-three weeks that he may get some football for us.
- He’s been tremendous in training; we are probably having to reel him back in which is always a good sign. He’s run really good numbers at the minute, and looks electric.
- There was an article in the week, which spoke about defence and it gave all the credit to one member of our team. First and foremost, it’s the Ospreys defence. Secondly, Shaun Edwards has come in and been absolutely fantastic, but equally so has Brad Davis, our Defence Coach, and it’s a combination of people working together, it hasn’t just been one person.
- As head coach its important to recognise that there are headline stories out there, but we have got to be honest and upfront about who’s doing what within our organisation. We work in an environment which is co-coaching and we are challenging both sides of the ball all the time. Within our defence and the people that drive the drill, it is Brad Davis with Shaun Edwards.