Having made a huge impact during the first few weeks of the season, Tom Smith is hoping that his form in the early games will be enough to cement his place in the team as the Heineken Cup approaches.
The versatile back-rower, 23, has featured in all of the Ospreys games so far this season, with Sunday’s game against Edinburgh being his third consecutive start, either at number eight or on the on the blindside, and he said that he’s pleased to be getting a run in the team:
“I’m really enjoying it, the start of the season has gone really well for me personally. It’s nice to have a good run of games, and I’ve started a few on the bounce now as well, which is always a good boost for any player as you need a run of games to really get comfortable and show what you are about.
“You’ve always got to be positive, believe in your own ability and have genuine confidence that you can do a job. You’ve got to compete for a place, I’m not here to be second to anyone, I’m always fighting for selection and I’m glad that I’ve been given a chance this early in the season. The coaches are showing a bit of faith in me, which is all you can ask for as a player, the rest is up to me on the pitch.”
Having enjoyed his first taste of Heineken Cup action last season as a replacement during the 68-8 romp against Benetton Treviso, he went on to record five tournament appearances off the bench, culminating in the disappointment of quarter-final defeat in Munster. As the Ospreys prepare for this year’s opener, a return to Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers on Sunday, Smith says that his focus has been on making sure that he hits his best form, rather than thinking too much about team selection for the Tigers match:
“I suppose it’s just about taking it the same as any other game. I don’t want to think too hard about it, or to put too much pressure on myself, and I think the boys are pretty much the same, they just want to take one game at a time. Hopefully, by the time that the coaches sit down to finalise their plans for the game, I’ll have done enough to be selected.
“There are a lot of boys fighting for positions in the back row, some hugely talented and experienced players so it’s a big fight for places. It pushes us on and helps you improve as players because no one can take their place for granted, the competition is a real motivator. It’s about knuckling down and doing the best you can.
“Working with players Ryan, Jerry and Filo in training is great for helping me improve my overall game as they have played for so long at the highest level and are really good at passing on their knowledge. In a match situation, to be playing alongside players of that calibre is a great help also, it makes your life much easier on the field as they don’t get phased as they’ve probably been in just about position in a match you can imagine. You get to learn a lot off them but it’s not all one way, I like to think that I can offer a lot to them as well.”