We welcome Newcastle Falcons to the Liberty Stadium, this afternoon, as we continue our European journey with our Round 16 Challenge Cup fixture.
The Falcons, like all Premiership teams, will pose a real challenge and are well coached and will be tough to beat because they are used to playing, week-in and week-out, in a competition that demands a high level of consistency.
Dean Richards, the Newcastle coach, is someone I know very well and his teams are always very well prepared, will be very competitive and very disciplined in their approach, with a real focus on the basics and fundamentals of the game.
So we know the physical battle with Newcastle is going to be tough and demanding, with the contact area a key part of the game for them and we expect a real contest in that area, and have to be prepared for that.
We have welcomed back our internationals from their success with Wales and we congratulated them on their achievements in the Six Nations.
While they were away, we learnt a lot about ourselves with the baton passed to some of younger players to hold the fort and they helped secure Champions Cup qualification with the Ospreys first win against Leinster in Dublin since 2012.
If we had questions about the depth and quality of our squad during the international windows and with injuries, we got some answers during the last couple of months.
We now know we have real competition for places developing at the Ospreys and deeper strength in depth and quality to select from, that will only drive the consistency in performance we are looking for.
Qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup is a good marker of the progress we have made and so is qualification for the last 16 and knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup.
We have given ourselves the opportunity to win silverware and those things are important.
We have made no secret about our philosophy about developing young players, developing our own people and talked about the style of play and our approach to the game but they all get validation with victories.
Ultimately, we are here to win games and to win silverware, and being in the last 16, quarter finals and semi-finals is about getting closer to winning something tangible. Nothing rewards endeavour like success.
There was a video of the Ospreys squad and staff all celebrating together after the victory over Leinster in Dublin and it demonstrated the foundations of the culture we are building here.
The true test of a team’s culture is what happens and what the reaction is in adversity. Before we travelled to Dublin, we had played three teams who were further down the road on their journey than we were and came second best.
We may not have always won, but we have always given our all and emptied the tank in the bid for success and played with real commitment and intent. Our challenge is to turn the pressure we create into points.
The job or a coach is to prepare the team and to fuel the ambition of the players to take another step along the journey we have all committed to and begun together.
The players have bought into what we want to do and they have done that consistently. All of us want to be a part of something and to believe in something and when we do that we commit hard to it.
The players have done that and they are showing that commitment, determination and pride in wearing and representing the Ospreys badge on their shirt.
The team thank you for your continued support.