Senior players lend their experience to

Injured duo Lyndon Bateman and Duncan Jones will spend the next few weeks assisting with individual training sessions and feedback after being specially drafted into work as part of the elite development arm at the Ospreys.

The move, which sees the pair become the first senior players to formally assist with such sessions, follows an organisational overhaul at the region ahead of the current season that saw a new operational structure put in place that clarifies the development pathway through to the senior Ospreys squad.

With a 32 man A Group that changes weekly based on the make-up of the expected squad for the next fixture and works closely with the three senior coaches in preparation for the upcoming match, the remainder of the squad, or B Group, will train with the A group at times during the week, to ensure that a clear understanding of the ‘Ospreys Way’ filters down, but they will follow their own conditioning and development work schedules, away from the A Group.

The duo, who are currently sidelined with knee and foot injuries respectively, will work closely with Ospreys Skills Coach Gruff Rees to assist with the management, analysis and feedback of individual training sessions with players who make up the ‘B’ group at the region. Providing an opportunity for Bateman and Jones to further their personal development as coaches, the initiative will see them working closely with younger Ospreys as well as senior players not involved with the A group ahead of the next fixture, as well as those returning from injury lay-offs.

Skills Coach Gruff Rees heads up the rugby programme for the B Group, and speaking about the initiative, he commented:
“The scope of input that we can offer our players will be much improved by getting senior figures such as Duncan and Lyndon involved in this aspect of our work. We can generate greater depth of feedback to all on a daily basis as well as furthering the understanding of the rugby philosophies that we are trying to promote throughout the regional set-up. In addition, one cannot underestimate the value of mentoring to our young players and the value of building relationships – the staff and support mechanisms will now allow this to flourish.”

One of the ‘originals’ having made his debut for the region back in September 2003, Bateman has made 79 Ospreys appearances to date, prior to suffering a dislocated patella eleven months ago. He says that he’s looking forward to this new challenge:

“It’s great to be involved in this way. Obviously, being on the long term injury list provides its own challenges, and makes you think about your future after your playing days, so this is a great opportunity for me to get some experience of one-to-one analysis and feedback work. I’ve experienced it as a player before, but it will be new to me to look at it from the other side of the coin and will certainly help with my own personal development while I’m still working towards my return.

“I’ve got plenty of experience under my belt, and I’d like to think that I will be able to use my knowledge to be able to assist the boys that I’ll be working with. It’s good to be able to offer something to the rest of the squad while I’m out injured, and I’ll be combining my ongoing rehab with the analysis and feedback sessions with members of the B Group. I’m looking forward to it, it’s a new challenge for me that I’m really looking forward to.”

Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, said that this kind of initiative was at the heart of the Ospreys culture:

“Everything we do as an organisation is focused on development from within, and this initiative is an excellent example of this. By utilising two experienced senior players, who are currently sidelined through injury, we are allowing these individuals to develop new skills that will benefit them in the long term as they move towards a possible future career in coaching, while the squad members involved in the B Group will undoubtedly benefit from their mentoring, and the knowledge and experience they have gained over the years as Ospreys. The analysis and feedback area is an important aspect of preparation for a modern rugby player, and the presence of senior players to assist Gruff in this area will allow for much greater coverage in this area.

“This will be a long term initiative. Duncan and Lyndon, while being the first senior players on the long-term injury list to be formally involved in this way, will most definitely not be the last. They were selected as they have the right characteristics for the task, and they both have a huge amount of experience to share with others in the region. It is a great way to keep people involved while they are unable to play a part on the pitch

“Given the nature of professional rugby, as these guys return to action it is inevitable that there will be other players on the long term injury list who will benefit from being involved like this, and who will have their own experience and areas of expertise that can benefit the whole group.

“This is just one of a number of development initiatives that we believe will help to make for a stronger Ospreys organisation in the longer-term, as we focus on creating long term, sustainable success for the region.”