We welcome the Cardiff Blues to the Liberty Stadium, this evening, as we kick-off the inaugural ‘northern’ Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup and resume the season.
Cardiff Blues have earned a reputation for getting the most turnovers in the Pro14, and have a real appetite for their defensive work. They base their game on their defence and the halfway line.
We have to be aware of their work around the breakdown and how they force all teams back into where the traffic is during the game and they have players who are good at getting the ball back.
We have to deal with that and play smart but we intend to play positive and to attack, which is how we want to play, and we have to do that on our terms.
All of you will be aware of Alun Wyn Jones’ decision to extend his commitment to the Ospreys and to Welsh rugby, this week. As you know the deal had been sealed sometime ago, and it was good to finally let you all know.
Alun Wyn’s decision to stay with his home region, something we all know he is proud to do, is a sign of how the Ospreys are moving forward and that he wants to play a part in where we are going.
Now we start a new competition, in what we all appreciate has been a long and convoluted season in an unprecedented time for us all. You are all aware of the situation with the big four South African teams, but this is still an opportunity to play and to compete in a new competition.
It’s a chance to start afresh and to compete, which is what we all do as professional people in this environment. The players and staff are excited and looking forward to the challenge ahead.
We start with our local derbies, which by necessity been a regular occurrence, and it’s another chance to pit our wits against our near neighbours and teams we know well.
There will be some new law variations in this competition which we will all have to learn to adapt too, you will see this evening and that provides its own unique challenge for all of us.
We will see goal line dropouts and captain’s challenges and also a new use of the red card in a very different way. Hopefully, we won’t be the victims of that but these are all things, as coaches and players, we have to learn to adapt to.
Rugby does have a massive appetite to make the game as safe as possible for the players and that is something we have to take on board and embrace, but it will mean it will take a while to undo habits that have become ingrained.
So, it will be fascinating to see how the new law variations, which we have seen in Super Rugby, pan out over the length of this new competition.
The Ospreys have approached this as a fresh start and it is probably the longest time we have had to work with the whole squad, with the return of our internationals after the Six Nations, and it’s another chance to embed the habits and style of play we want.
Having a block of time to work on that, with all the players, has been really beneficial but the proof will be in what we see out on the pitch. This is about performance and seeing where we are and the understanding of the principles we have adopted as the Ospreys.
The team thank you for your continued support.