With four tries in his first five Ospreys appearances, Richard Fussell has certainly made a positive impression since arriving at the Liberty Stadium in pre-season.
The 26-year old former Dragons wing has made a flying start to life at the region, and he says he’s pleased with how things are going so far:
“Trying to get my name on the score sheet is obviously a big thing for me being new here, to make an impact so it’s been really pleasing for me, particularly having only started one game. Obviously the main focus is on playing well for the team, but it helps me settle if the pressure of scoring is off right at the start.
You have to take your chances when you can here; you have to with so many good players, internationals, about the place. You’ve got to try and make an impression in the best way possible and I suppose, as a winger it’s about scoring tries, that’s what you need to be doing.”
He established a reputation as quality finisher at the Dragons, with 24 tries in his five seasons at Rodney Parade, and his move to the Ospreys caused a few raised eyebrows from the wider rugby community, but he says that the opportunity to improve his personal game was too good to turn down:
“I just needed a change and a fresh start really. I’d had five good years there and they were very good to me but I just felt that I needed another challenge. The thought of coming to the Ospreys and working with the coaches and players in my position like Tommy Bowe, Shane Williams, Tom Prydie and Nikki Walker was exciting, and I think it’s the best way to test myself, to compete against the best.
“It’s not an easy challenge, it’s definitely not. I can understand that people may raise an eyebrow at it. You’ve only got one career and if I get an opportunity to test myself then I’m going to take it. It’s still early days but I think I’m doing pretty well at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to impose myself a bit more as the season goes on.
“There’s always a high level of competition in a team environment like this, it’s in people’s nature. Competition is a good thing. There’s a good crack in training, the banter is there and we all have good relationships. That’s important, it’s a team game and we have to learn how different people are, how they react to different things.
“It’s good in a way because you realise that you have to adjust your own game, and work your style around others and that makes you a better player. It’s always a test, there’s a new challenge every day for you. You have to be at your best every day because of the level of competition internally and this helps to make you a better player in the long run.
“I’m picking up little things here and there and I’m improving my game. With players like Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe, World Player of the Year and Magners League Player of the Year, I’m challenging myself in training and you can’t help but learn in those circumstances, it’s making me a better player. Competition makes you a better player, and ultimately, a better team.”
With competition for places so tough, Fussell acknowledges that his first goal for the season has to be to nail down a place in the squad:
“I think the first goal is to try and secure a place in the playing squad. Ideally, I’d like a starting place every week but that’s not going to happen with the number of quality wingers we’ve got. That’s my goal though, to try and make a place in the 22 mine, and hopefully, that will lead to me starting more games.
“When the opportunity does come up to start, I’ve got to try and nail it down and just say ‘right, it’s my opportunity now, I’ve got to try and shine’, and just take every chance I get.
“When I had the chance to come to the Ospreys, one of the things that attracted me was that they have a track record for player development, not just youngsters, but in helping more experienced players to improve their game. Hopefully, that’ll be the case for me, and if I can follow players like Tommy Bowe then I’ll be pretty pleased with how I’d have done.”