We've broken down this week's press conference with Head Coach Toby Booth into bitesize blocks.
Here’s what he had to say about:
On reflections from last weekend:
- Great effort, intensity, a very significant improvement defensively from the week before. We need to maintain that sort of standards, and against the very best you need to make sure that you cash in when you are in front because you know that it is very difficult if you don't, and good sides will have enough quality to make you pay. When we couldn't maintain good possession and get out of our half in the middle of the second half, we paid the ultimate price.
On the learnings from the last game against the Sale Sharks:
They are big and strong; there's lots of South African accents; they enjoy the collision and attack the breakdown. Nothing that I didn't know already from my time in England. We know that they pride themselves in being very efficient in how they play and you need to be very good in the set-piece and in breakdown situations.
On the importance of staying in Europe for the Ospreys:
What's more important is how we perform on the back of some indifferent results. You know we started the season exceptionally well – were (at) the top of the Welsh Shield and bits and pieces like that. It's important that we have good performances in order to set ourselves up well for the next game against Edinburgh, which obviously leads into the Six Nations period. What's difficult around that game is obviously we lose a lot of international players from that moment or from this week on. So it's important that we get performance momentum as much as outcome momentum. If we perform well, then the outcomes you mentioned take care of themselves well.
On the first international call-ups for Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake:
It's great, obviously. Dewi Lake's been a project for some time and you know we're working hard, you saw how well he went from a collision point of view at the weekend.
Obviously we have to keep working with the set-piece element... we've got specialist coaching for him and the other hookers around; and maintaining his throwing… so we have put some of the very best around him like Simon Hardy, who has worked with England, Australia, Scotland. We're excited about him as a prospect as is Wayne Pivac.
Jac Morgan as we know has been one of our most consistent performers. A menace on the ball, has shown some good attacking touches which we'll need to keep improving, but he is a very committed young man who's basically finding his way and has still got a lot of improvement in him, which is exciting.
On Adam Beard being the new vice-captain of the national side and his recent achievements and the journey that got him there:
I think it's a good example of how a player with the right coaching and the structures around him can bounce back from disappointment.
So just over 12 months ago, he was left out from the national side. He was given things to work on, he was around a new environment. He has reflected, acted, and improved his performance to a level that he's one of the first names on the team sheet and has been given a leadership role.
So, ultimately Adam's achieved this by what he's done. Our part is creating an environment to help him and all the young players, emerging players… and any player actually and give them the opportunity to keep improving and become the best version of themselves that they can be. I think Adam is a good advert for what everyone's done around that but most of all what he's done.
- On Justin Tipuric:
We've had some second opinion scans recently and I can confirm that he is probably not going to be involved from a Six Nations point of view. The injury isn't where we all hoped it would be so it's going to take a long time to get that right. He is probably going to miss out on that (Six Nations) and he's back when he's back but yeah, without doubt, it's going to be months rather than weeks, which is very sad for him. Again, the same support that we put to our fit players, we need to put around our injured players as well because obviously the mental element of that is very disappointing.
I think we need to get through the next couple of months before I can make an accurate decision on that. At the moment, it's just about coming to the reality of what we do next as with any injury setback… making sure that we've got enough support around him and he understands as he will because of who he is and what he isn't. He understands that unfortunately injury is part of what we have to go through as professional sportsmen and as an organisation, we’ll get him involved in stuff around that he can contribute as soon as possible.
The disappointing thing for him is that he saw that the goalposts were right in front of him... we got him back to just getting back to training and then under pressure, there were a few warning signs and under further investigation we found out that the injury is not fixed as it needs to be. In the sport we play, you can't carry that because you'll end up doing some serious challenge. So we've got to keep the health of our players centred, he understands that, but it's doubly frustrating for him because he was getting close to being back to doing the things that he loves to do. So our immediate concern is where he is from a psychological point of view and understanding and mapping out the journey for him to focus on, to get him back playing.
- On Alun Wyn Jones:
He's exactly where he should be. He's making progress, he's been up at the Vale this week, doing some stuff with them and been in and out of the Welsh camp.
- On George North:
He is actually showing some good progress, which is great. So hoping to get him back in February at some point.
- On Dan Lydiate:
He completed a week of training and we're hoping that he's available for selection probably next week, which is great to get someone back.
- From last game:
We've had a few knocks and bangs from the wrestling game. As you can imagine the amount of collisions that were in it, so we've picked up a few small dents but nothing too major, which is good.
- On Stephen Myler:
He returned to training this week, which is exciting.
On the omission of Rhys Webb and Nicky Smith from the Wales squad and their expected response:
The only way they know how, which is to keep performing really really well. You know Gareth Thomas is in, Nicky Smith is out, so we're blessed with having two very good or, with Rhodri Jones, three very very good Looseheads that have all played international rugby. So from our point of view it's about getting everybody pushing forward to be the best version, as I said, as a Loosehead, and that competition has made one get in front of the other from a Welsh selection point of view but I know Nicky is a massive competitor and that won't stop pushing him on even further. Nicky has been around the block a bit, he understands it.
You know things can change very very quickly and all he can be is be ready for that opportunity, and be ready for him is producing good performances. When he's come off the bench, he has created turnovers, scrum penalties etc... All he can do is keep putting money into the bank from a selection point of view and similarly with the other boys… Webby's been outstanding for us – captained the team, led by example. He's been really good. Rhys Davies is another one that people have spoken about. All those boys can do is just keep putting their hand up and if the opportunity comes they have got to be ready.
On the chances of Rhys Webb getting in the national side in the future:
I think that he's performing at a Test level for us, but there are some very good scrum-halves in Wales. I can't control what they want from a scrum-half. I know from a leading-by-example, from an effort, from a consistency point of view, Webby's done that for us and will continue to do so. He's becoming more influential as a leader in the group and maturing around that, and I really enjoy working with him. Their loss in that respect is our gain.
On Alex Cuthbert:
He's been in and out a little bit obviously (due to) the intermittent element of our competition we play in and Covid and all those bits and pieces. He needs to put a run of games together. He's obviously got back into the international fold which is very exciting for him and I think the more we get him out there, the better he'll get… how far and to what levels, we'll see, but I think the first challenge for us always is to get him out there for long periods, week on week.