Brendon Leonard has revealed that he believes his summer switch to the Ospreys will help to make him a better player.
The former All Black, capped 13 times by New Zealand, will make the switch to the Liberty Stadium in the summer after two seasons with Italian outfit Zebre, and after giving Ospreys supporters a tantalising glimpse of what to expect with an impressive showing in his team’s PRO12 defeat to the region on Saturday defeat.
Despite his team being on the back foot for long periods, Leonard showed his attacking abilities and intelligence, creating one try and proving a constant thorn in the Ospreys side.
Speaking post-match to the Welsh press, he acknowledged that he will be expected to bring his leadership qualities to the team, but stressed that will be looking to learn from the new environment.
“They see me as a player who can offer a bit of experience, especially with the international players being away at the World Cup and the Six Nations for a big chunk of the Pro12 programme,” said Leonard.
“Depth in each position is important. I know Ospreys are trying to build it up in each position. I’ll try to play my part but I’m looking forward to learning and trying to grow my game and I think this is the place where I can do that best.
“There are plenty of things I need to improve on. I still have things I want to get better at. I believe coming here will help me to do that. I’ll play a bit of rugby. That’s my goal for Ospreys. They brought me here to play good rugby when I’m called on. Hopefully, I can do that.”
The latest in a distinguished line of Kiwi nines to become an Osprey, Leonard admitted that he has been a long time follower of the region.
“I’ve always watched Ospreys” he said.
“There’s been a lot of New Zealanders playing for them, especially New Zealand half-backs, so it’s always been a club that I’ve followed.
“Jason Spice is from the same town that I’m from. I’ve always been interested. I’ve been talking over the last few years with him and I’m really impressed with the set-up. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it in June.
“I know Chris Gibbes quite well and we’ve been chatting over the past couple of years since we came over to Europe.
“They are a very professional, well-drilled team, physical and do the simple things well, with some players who can bust the line and score tries. All in all, it’s a pretty impressive team.”
Leonard joins a strong pool of scrum-halves at the region, and will compete for a place with Welsh internationals Rhys Webb and Martin Roberts, as well as Tom Habberfield who this week signed a new contract with the region. He said that it’s an exciting challenge, paying tribute to the form of Webb for region and country this season.
“Rhys has been fantastic, getting better and better” said Leonard.
“He’s in good form for the World Cup and it will be very interesting to follow both him and Dan. I’m sure they’ll put Wales in a good position.
“Dan and Sam have playing fantastically for the Ospreys and Dan for Wales as well.
“The Ospreys have some fantastic talent coming through. I’m just excited to slide in next year wherever they require me and try to do my best.”