Leonard: “We’ll keep striving to get better”

After his first start for the region ended in agonising defeat last weekend, Brendon Leonard said that the team has to ensure they meet the standards expected of an Ospreys side.

The former All-Black, new to the Ospreys this season, was handed the number nine shirt for Sunday’s game against Munster after impressing off the bench in the opening day defeat to Ulster. Although another bright individual performance wasn’t enough to inspire his new team to a first win of the PRO12 season, Leonard insists he’s seen enough to know that he is part of a squad that can turn things around pretty quickly.

Reflecting on the narrow defeat to the Munstermen shortly after the final whistle, the scrum-half said that everybody has to pull together for the cause.

“It’s never nice to finish on the losing side is it?” said Leonard when asked for his thoughts on his first Ospreys start.

“There was a big improvement in our performance from the previous weekend, there was plenty of effort out there, it was just a few little things in the last 20 minutes that kept them in the game. That gave them a sniff, we failed to finish off the job and they struck when they had the opportunity to steal it. It’s really disappointing.

“We’ve got to keep working hard to make sure we keep improving. Like I said, it was a big improvement on Sunday but it’s still not good enough. We’ll keep looking forward, striving to get better.

“There’s a lot of talk about it being a young team, and I guess that’s right, but we can’t use it as an excuse. The expectation within the environment, what the coaches talk about, is everybody knowing your roles and doing your job, and I felt that on the whole we did that pretty effectively. The young boys in the squad really stepped up and it wouldn’t be fair to them to hide behind youth as an excuse for losing as it wouldn’t do justice to some of the performances we saw out there.

“When you lose like we did it hurts, definitely, but there’s no excuses. It’s about failing to finish off the game when we were in a good position to do that in the last 20 minutes. There were a few things we could have done better as a team to do just that.”

With back to back away games coming up after a three-week lay-off due to the Rugby World Cup, Leonard said everybody at the Ospreys is well aware of what they need to:

“We always knew that this time of the season would be tough because of the World Cup and that’s the way it’s playing out. There’s a long way to go this season yet though but we don’t want to let the gap between the top six and where we are become too big, we need to start putting things right.

“We’ve got two tough away trips to Edinburgh and Treviso in front of us and we know that we are going to have to raise our game again, take it to a level we haven’t reached yet this season.

“Clearly there are work-ons for us but we have to be level headed about things and look at the positives as well. It’s a little bit of what’s done is done really. We can’t play these games again so the focus has to be on improving and delivering a better performance as a team when we run out in Edinburgh.”