Four of the region’s summer signings reported to Llandarcy for pre-season training today, with Steve Tandy saying that their arrival will give the Ospreys strength in depth in key positions.
The region has confirmed five new faces for 2014/15, and the first quartet reported for duty at the Ospreys’ training HQ on the first day of pre-season where they met their new team-mates, collected their new BLK kit and underwent a day of testing under the watchful eye of the medical and conditioning teams.
Full back Dan Evans, centre Josh Matavesi, hooker Sam Parry and prop Gareth Thomas were the new boys in town, with South African second row Rynier Bernardo set to arrive at the start of July.
As always, the players are reporting back in stages with senior internationals and U20 representatives away on duty, while players involved in last month’s trial match are also enjoying a belated break.
However, the new boys were still welcomed into camp by a core group of players ready to begin preparations for the new campaign.
One of the first faces they saw on Monday morning was Head Coach, Steve Tandy, who after an early morning catch-up with the players, outlined what he though the four will bring to the squad.
“Dan will provide real competition for Richard Fussell and Ross Jones at the back” said Tandy.
“It’s going to be a great contest for the 15 jersey that I’m looking forward to. He’s got a massive left boot on him which is a real asset, something which is always welcomed in any team. He’s played 10 a lot in his career so we’ll have two receivers on the field with him on there, which provides extra options in attack.
“He had a terrific season with the Dragons and I’ll expect him to not only keep up that level of performance but to continue striving to improve as a player in our environment, which is one geared to development.
“Josh has real quality with the ball in hand and he’s another left footer. He’s already a familiar face around the place as he’s been in to do a lot of work ahead of pre-season, to make sure he is in a position to fight it out with the good crop of centres we’ve got here.
“I think he’s going to add something different to our midfield, particularly post-contact as he’s got a great offloading ability. He’s got great energy about everything he does and he’s very experienced for such a young man. After a positive pre-season for Josh I think he could be a real strong influence for us this season.
“We know already that Sam has outstanding physical qualities, but he is also a good rugby player. He’s explosive, and he will add to the depth around the front row. It’s not just about this season, we have a young squad and we believe he can help to drive this team for a number of years. It’s an intriguing battle for that shirt now. We’ve got Scott Baldwin who has forced himself into Welsh contention now but there’s also Scott Otten, who made a huge impact at the end of last season, Matthew Dwyer and Evan Yardley.
“That’s a crop of hookers who are all hungry and want to wear the Ospreys jersey and that is a huge positive for us for the coming season.
“Gareth is a big lad who was extremely positive in the national U20s a year ago. We’ve watched him in the Premiership with Carmarthen for some time and liked what we’ve seen from him consistently. It’s a positive signing in that we think that we’ve now got five loose-heads, ranging from the experience of Duncan, Ryan Bevington who will be fit for pre-season, and then Nicky Smith, Marc Thomas and Gareth, who can all do a job for us.”
Looking ahead to the forthcoming season, Tandy admitted to feeling excited about the prospects for the young squad as he delivered a challenge to improve on last season.
“Although the boys weren’t back until today officially it’s been interesting to see how many of them have been in and around the place, doing little bits and bobs as they are excited about the coming season” he said.
“They realise that we have competition throughout the squad now and want to make sure they are giving themselves the best chance of nailing that jersey.
“There’s a real buzz about them, you can see that they want to get better, to improve on what we did last year. I know we keep on saying it but this is a young group, that’s a fact. But, they were told before they went away that we won’t allow them to use that as an excuse this year. We expect to see more consistency from them week in, week out. If we can deliver that, and constantly improve our game, then we are in store for an exciting season.
“We are trying to play a more expansive game, move it a bit more, and the boys are excited about that. We’ve done a lot of work to reshape the squad over the last couple of years and that is ongoing, but I’m genuinely excited about what we can do this season.”
The Ticket Office reopened for business once again following essential IT maintenance and upgrades at 10am on Monday morning with a new state of the art ticketing system now in place thanks to a brand new partnership between the Liberty Stadium and Ticketmaster.
To mark the reopening of the Ticket Office, supporters still to buy their 2014/15 season membership can take advantage of the ‘Back to business bonus’, with adult memberships starting from just £165 until 6pm on Friday, which works out at just £10 a game for new and renewing members.
To take advantage of this fantastic offer you can visit the Ticket Office or call the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665 between 10am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or visit e.tickets.ospreysrugby.co.uk to purchase online.
Alternatively, you can text PROUD to 88802 for more information.