As he returns to the Ospreys following his unexpected inclusion in the Welsh touring party to the Canada and the USA earlier this summer, Craig Mitchell has said that the challenge facing him now is to establish himself in the match-day squad at the regio
A product of the Ospreys Academy, who graduated through the age-grade set-up at the region, 23-year old Mitchell was the surprise name in Robin McBryde's squad, coming after just six senior Ospreys appearances, and he made his international debut on the tour, featuring as a replacement in both tests.
With fellow tight-head Adam Jones unfortunately ruled out for six months following surgery to the shoulder injury he sustained on the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, Mitchell realises that he has an opportunity to stake a claim at the region. He said:
"I've got a very big year ahead so I have to make sure that I kick on from what has been an incredible few months for me personally. Adam's injury is really unfortunate for him, he did brilliantly for the Lions this summer and he must be gutted. But, the way rugby is, someone has to come in for him, so the start of the season is a real opportunity for one of us tight-heads in the squad to step up and nail down a place. It's going to be a real challenge because as well as Adam we have quality guys like Cai Griffiths and Ross Davies here, but I'm looking forward to it. It's important that we have strength in depth and options available as to be successful, you need to be able to rotate players as no one can play every game in a season."
Looking back at his first ever experience of the senior Wales set-up, Mitchell says that while he would love to be involved with the national team again, he understands that the only way to achieve that goal will be to make an impact in an Ospreys shirt. He added:
"I had an awesome time, it was a huge experience for me. I've definitely got the taste for it and would love to be part of the international scene in the future. It was a huge shock to be selected, it came right out of the blue, but I really enjoyed being part of the Wales squad, I made the most of it and I think that I did myself and the Ospreys proud out there. I realise that if I'm going to get to be part of the experience again then I need to perform for my region, I need to nail down a place in the squad this season and get more Ospreys game-time. Any other ambitions have to come second to that, it's here with the region that I need to establish myself and once I've done that hopefully the rest will follow."