The Ospreys travelling party rolled into Issoire in central France on Tuesday afternoon for their pre-season training camp and there was no time to acclimatise for the players as it was immediately down to work with a 90 minute training session for the players shortly after checking into their hotel.
The team will use the next few days to prepare for their opening pre-season fixture against Clermont Auvergne on Friday evening, and Jonathan Thomas, one of the senior figures in the travelling party, says that it’s good to be there and straight into business.
“We’re all a bit tired and stiff after a long day travelling” he said on Tuesday night.
“We flew out of Gatwick to Lyon and then had a three hour drive down from there, so we were feeling it a bit by the time we got to the hotel, but after checking in it was straight down to work for all of us.
“We were straight into it with a training session which was excellent considering the stiff legs. We had a bit of a blow-out to get the travel out of us ahead of the sessions on Wednesday and Thursday which will be much tougher to help us get ready for the game on Friday night.”
Having reported back for pre-season training six weeks ago, Thomas acknowledged the benefits of getting away from HQ as a group, saying that being away from any distractions will allow them to get some quality work done.
“We’ve got a fantastic base at Llandarcy but they say that a change is as good as a rest and that’s definitely the case when you’re in pre-season” said Thomas.
“You can go stir crazy stuck in the same place every day for two months without any games to focus on so to get somewhere different for a few days, with a big test at the end of it, benefits everyone.
“We’re staying in Issoire which is a really picturesque place, it’s stunning with mountains and lakes, there’s beautiful weather and we’ve got the sun on our backs for a change. We may have only just got here but everyone has a spring in their step because we are somewhere different, experiencing different things. There are no distractions for the group, it’s all about the rugby, as it should be. It gives everyone a lift at a time when the training is going to move up a gear which is a good thing.
“This is the next step for us now. We’ve had an excellent pre-season, probably the most enjoyable I’ve had if I’m honest. There’s a good mix of youth and experience in the group and everyone’s interacted very well. It’s been tough, we’ve been worked hard, but there’s a good feeling about the group coming here this week.
“We’ve done a lot of work on game plays and set moves and the next thing now is for us to move into a game scenario and that’s what we’ll be doing this Friday night and in the Bath game next Saturday.”
French giants Clermont Auvergne, 2011/12 T14 semi finalists, will provide a stern test for the Ospreys on Friday evening at 8.00pm local time but Thomas said that the focus won’t be on the opposition, it will be on their own performance:
“They’ll provide very tough opposition regardless of team selection. For me, and I think I speak for the rest of the lads, we aren’t going to worry about the opposition though.
“We respect the Ospreys jersey and aim to do it justice every time we pull it on. We ended last season well and we’re a proud bunch of players, we want to get this year off to a good start and build from where we finished off in May.
“Yes, they are a great side and will provide tough opposition for us whoever is involved, and no doubt they’ll be buoyed by local support on the night, but we want to get stuck into it. Our focus is always on getting our own jobs done, making sure we all do our roles properly and it won’t be any different on Friday night.”
Tickets for the first home game of 2012/13, against Bath at the Liberty Stadium are on sale now at the Ticket Office, via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665 and at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets