With the international contingent absent, the Ospreys will be looking to a number of younger players to step up during November and take their opportunity to shine for the region, and one of the players currently away at the Spala training camp in Poland is urging those still at Llandarcy to look to follow in his footsteps.
Centre Ashley Beck was just 17 years and 222 days old when, five years ago, he came off the bench to become the youngest ever Osprey in a Magners League clash against Leinster on the same weekend that Wales were defeated by newly crowned world champs South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.
His brief introduction to senior rugby saw him go head-to-head with Leinster legend Brian O’Driscoll for the first time, and over the following seasons the majority of his time in an Ospreys shirt came during the various international windows, until such was his form at the start of last season during the Rugby World Cup period that he was able to firmly establish himself in the starting XV with his first international call-up duly following.
With three caps coming during the summer tour to Australia, 22-year old Beck will be absent from the Ospreys during this international window, but he says it’s a great opportunity for others to make their mark.
“This time of the year is massive for younger players coming through” said Beck.
“You know as a young player at the Ospreys that when the international period comes around there’ll be a lot of players away, and that’s when you need to take your opportunity.
“I was lucky to get some experience against Leinster as a 17-year old, which was brilliant. Over the next few years then, I was playing for Aberavon throughout the season with the chance to play again for the Ospreys during the different international breaks, and that really helped me to kick on as a player.
“Playing in the PRO12 against the likes of Edinburgh, Connacht, Glasgow and the Dragons was great experience. The LV= Cup is also great, I’ve been involved in some brilliant games against the likes of Leicester and Bath, giving me a taste of something different.”
Now firmly established as a key player at the region, Beck is in no doubt of the value of the experience gained in the international periods.
“I’d definitely agree that it’s helped me become a better player. Stepping up from the Premiership to train and play with senior Ospreys, and to play against better players, can only make you better.
“I’m fortunate to be away with Wales now, and there will be players coming into the group at the Ospreys now who are in the same position as I’ve been over the last few years. It’s an exciting time with people desperate to learn and to impress the coaches, and you know that whatever happens there’ll be one or two players that people haven’t heard of who will show up well and get supporters talking. That’s always the way.
“If you do well during the window it can be huge for you.”