After watching the Ospreys extend their 100 per cent record thanks to a resounding win over Ulster at the Liberty Stadium to make it a fourth win from four RaboDirect PRO12 games this season, Scott Johnson insists that there is still room for improvement from his young team.
20 points from the boot of 21-year old Dan Biggar set the Ospreys on the way to victory against an Ulster team that arrived at the Liberty with a 100 per cent record of their own, with a penalty try and a Richard Fussell score, along with a Matthew Morgan conversion, allowing the Ospreys to overturn an early 7-0 deficit, securing a win that saw them leapfrog their opponents in the table and move into second place.
Speaking to the press after the game, Johnson said that the although the team were very much a work in progress still, he was pleased to see that they were displaying the characteristics he wanted the region to represent.
“I’m satisfied with the result and how we did it” he said.
“We showed great resolve after a poor start, and to turnaround 10 points at the time of the sin binning to get in front on the scoreboard showed great character.
“We weren’t clinical in some aspects of the game though. Parts of the performance I’m really pleased about, and I’m really pleased with the character, but I’m not entirely convinced about the process. We’ve just got to be honest and we’ve just got to keep working. We all try seek perfection but there is none in this game.
“What I like was that there was resolve in our team, they showed great character and they are showing an embodiment of what we want to stand for in this region. We are really happy with the progress we are making but not entirely happy with the performance.
“We’re four out of four, I think you’d have been mad not to have taken that at the start of the season. Look, on the back of some performances last season, this tournament is in a different place this year, as all competitions are, but we can only do what we can do, and we are doing that, like I keep saying with a squad that is all Welshmen bar one youngster who will become Welsh soon. I think that is a credit to the region and it’s a credit to some of the young kids. We’re uncovering some kids that we’re thinking ‘okay, we didn’t count on that’, and there are a few surprise packages.
“I thought James King came on today and did wonderfully well in a position that he’s not that comfortable with. He’s a versatile kid and he can play a few positions, but I thought his display in an uncharacteristic position was terrific. Wales is not endowed with tight head props so it’s nice to see a young tight head in Joe Rees come on and do really, really well.
“At the other end of the scale is Jonathan Thomas who made his 150th appearance for the region today. I coached him as a kid with Wales and now I’m coaching him as a man. In this job you get to see guys develop, to see them grow as rugby players and as people, and I’m very, very fortunate as I’ve seen Jonathan grow into a man I really like and a rugby player I like. He possesses the qualities I want, he’s a special guy. You look back on your life and have the ability to say you were privileged to coach some people and I’ll say it’s been a privilege to coach Jonathan Thomas.
“You can talk the talk or you can do the actions and JT has been exemplary. I’m sure he’s been disappointed at his non-selection for the Rugby World Cup but he hasn’t really discussed it, he’s just gone out there and done what he’s paid to do. When you talk about his career, this period will probably be overlooked because of the achievements he’s done in his career, but this period, as a person it exemplifies what he stands for and I couldn’t speak more highly of him, as a player and a person.
“It’s good to have Hibbs back as well. He’s enigmatic, he really is. Every scrum he packs in he dominates, he’s a big industrious hooker and he’s full of heart. Some of the things he did out there today you think he shouldn’t be able to do that and he has, he’s done wonderfully well.
“But, he’s just got to understand now that he’s got to keep those performances going. He’s got to concentrate on the things he’s not strong on and make sure he’s physically fit all the time because like me he tends to put on the wrong kind of weight so we’ve got to make sure we’ve got it covered. Once again, he’s a good character, and some of the things he did out there today he shouldn’t be able to do. Mind you, one of his throws he shouldn’t be able to do either, so it works both ways!
“So, there are some positives we can take from the game but we’re not getting carried away.”