Competition for places will benefit Ospreys

Kahn Fotuali'i is preparing for a real tussle for the Ospreys number nine jersey this season as he does battle with Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb for a place in the starting line-up.

The Samoan international arrived in Ospreylia last year from Super XV giants Crusaders, sharing duties with Webb throughout the season, and although it was Fotuali’i who started the PRO12 semi-final against Munster at the Liberty Stadium as the Ospreys soared to a 45-10 win, Webb was the one who got the nod two weeks later when the region secured a fourth league title with a nailbiting win over Leinster in Dublin.

As the new season draws nearer, the Auckland born half-back says that the competition between the pair will be a good thing:

“I think it’s good for the team, to have two players keeping each other on their toes” said Fotuali’i.

“I rate Webby really highly, we are two different types of players. For myself I’ve just got to concentrate on my own game, focus on what I do, and try to put pressure on him. He’ll certainly be putting pressure on me.

“Whoever gets to start will definitely do a job and then we’ll have someone coming off the bench who can make an impact and help to drive the team on. It’s going to be a good competition that will benefit the team and both players.”

After pre-season defeats to Clermont Auvergne and Bath Fotuali’i is quick to stress that preparations are the new campaign are going well, with the team building nicely ahead of the opening day trip to northern Italy to face Benetton Treviso.

“We know the results didn’t go our way, and we know that in particular the Bath game we didn’t play that well but that’s pre-season. You try new things out, look at different players and combinations, patterns of play all that kind of things, to see what works and what doesn’t. We used something like 50 players over the two games, which gives you an indication of the work that’s been done to identify where players are at.

“You can’t experiment in a match situation once the season gets underway, and because we’ve done that in the two games we have a much better idea of where we are and what we need to work on, something that may not have been the case if we hadn’t approached the games this way. In the long run, we’ll be better off throughout the season for the way we’ve approached pre-season.”

This Friday sees the Ospreys get their title defence underway with a tricky trip to Italy where Benetton Treviso are the opponents.

“We’re building quite nicely ahead of the first game this week” said Fotuali’i.

“We know it’s going to be a tough one but training has been pretty good. It’s always a difficult place to go, I saw that for myself playing out there in the Heineken Cup last season when we were grateful to young Matthew Morgan for putting over a late penalty to get the draw.

“We know it’s going to be tough to play them first up. They’ve brought a few in which should make them stronger, but we’ve been working hard in preparation and we want to move on our style of footie a step further this season. We want to use the ball a bit more, and play exciting footie – but sensible, not stupid footie!”