Allen Clarke has praised the “energy” of the returning Wales 6 Nations contingent as he looks ahead to the challenge of Leinster at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (7.35pm KO).
The interim head coach has welcomed the addition of the Welsh internationals to the training group and, as the coaching group look to nail down selection for the crunch game against the Conference B leaders, Clarke said that their positive attitude is rubbing off on the rest of the squad.
“Their presence in training this week has given everyone a real boost” said Clarke.
“They are coming in off the back of what was, ultimately, a successful Six Nations, and they are bringing that buzz with them. The energy they’ve brought to training has been excellent.
“That’s rubbing off and, collectively, there has been a really positive energy about the place. Everybody is excited about the challenges we have coming up, starting with Leinster on Saturday night, and having our internationals available again is huge for us right now.
“We are using this week to look at individuals, see where they are at personally. We’ll make the call on who plays based on their circumstances but I’d expect to see some of the Wales contingent involved.”
It’s not only international returnees that have boosted numbers on the training paddock at Llandarcy Academy of Sport this week, as a lengthy injury list finally starts to shorten, Clarke welcoming the return to fitness of a number of key players who will also come into contention.
“The list of players unavailable for selection was huge by the time we were playing Southern Kings and Cheetahs, and the postponed game against Zebre, so we are pleased to have so many players available again this weekend” he said.
“That’s not just the internationals, we’ve got boys available again who’ve been injured and we’ve got some options again. There are some tough selection issues for us as coaches, difficult decisions to make, and there’ll be some disappointed players when the team is announced but that’s what we want ahead of such an important game.
“Whoever is selected at the weekend it’s about the squad, and the players who aren’t selected will all have a part to play, in preparation for Saturday and over the remaining weeks of the season.”
With the Ospreys chasing down Champions Cup qualification for next season, Clarke stressed the need for the team to continue their recent run of good results in the Guinness PRO14:
“We are four from five in the PRO14 so we’ve got momentum and we have to keep that rolling. There are five games left for us to secure a Champions Cup slot for next season and we are in control of our own destiny as far as that is concerned.
“Effectively, we are playing knock-out rugby now, every game matters. It’s important we all work together, on and off the field, if we are going to achieve what we want from this last month or so of the season, starting on Saturday night where hopefully we’ll have a big crowd at the Liberty to get behind the team.”