On a difficult evening for a young Ospreys team on the Swiss/French border on Friday, 21-year old back-rower James King was one of the shining lights, playing in the unfamiliar position of openside flanker.
Usually found on the blindside King has been described previously by Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys as a ‘back five player’, and he displayed his versatility with a resilient performance against a far more experienced Lyon pack, showing up well across the park.
Speaking after the game, the Mold RFC product said that he was simply happy to be out on the field in an Ospreys shirt, regardless of the number on his back.
“I’ve had a couple of games there in the Premiership but not a lot” he explained.
“It’s not something I’m really used to doing but I enjoyed it and I’ll have to speak to the coaches and find out how they think I went. I tried to do what I would do at six, with that little bit more, run a bit more and cover the extra ground!
“I’ll have a look at the video and see how it went, but it’ll be down to the coaches whether they think I did enough. I’m happy to play anywhere in the team if it means I’m selected.”
Reflecting on the 38-10 defeat, King found it difficult to hide his frustration, acknowledging it had been a tough evening at the office. In a starting XV that featured seven players yet to start in a competitive regional fixture, King was able to offer the relative experience of five starts with eight more appearances off the bench. However, he was unwilling to use the inexperience in the team as an excuse :
“It was a difficult 80 minutes” he continued.
“We were clearly a little rusty as a team, there are things that we need to work on, basic stuff, if we want to win games. There were errors out there that made it difficult for us, we need to execute things better and get a bit more organised on the park.
“We knew it would be a tough challenge for us but if I’m honest I’m disappointed with how it went. I think we should have done better. It may not have been our strongest team but the majority of us have all been involved in the training through pre-season, we’ve had a chance to learn the moves and the calls. Maybe we just needed to gel more as a team and that comes through playing together.
“There’s an argument I suppose that we may have put them on a pedestal too much going into the game because they are more experienced and allowed them to dictate and dominate. If you do that there’s only going to be one outcome and you will always be the team who is retreating, as proved to be the case in the first half.
“We needed to get hold of the ball and keep it. There were too many errors in our game that didn’t need to be there and we kept putting pressure on ourselves. They took their chances in the first half and we only had ourselves to blame.
“I think they had the momentum then towards half-time, but in the second half we realised what we could do if we did the basics and it definitely improved but it wasn’t enough.”
King will now spend the next week working hard in training hoping to be one of the players that Director of Coaching Scott Johnson said post-match will be rewarded for their night’s work ahead of the game against the Russian national side at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday 21st August at 3.00pm. He said:
“Hopefully I’ll be involved but I’m not going to say anything about it. We’ve got another big week of training ahead of the Russia game and competition will be really tough with the senior boys involved so by no means am I thinking yet that I’m going to be involved in that game. I’ll train all week, and hopefully, today’s performance and the effort in training will be enough to satisfy the coaches.
“That’s what I’ve got to do, week in, week out, now if I want to make an impression this season. I’ve got to work hard on and off the field if I want to be involved more.”
Tickets for the Russia game are now on sale at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office and online here, priced at just £15 adults and £1 kids, with a fantastic family fun day planned, with all the fun underway from 12noon. To watch the game for the even better value of price of just £9.70, buy a season-ticket now, and secure your seat for every home game for just £165. Don’t forget that up to four kids can get a free season-ticket with one paying adult!