After the Ospreys maintained their unbeaten start to the PRO12 season with a win over Connacht on Friday evening, Martin Roberts hailed the team spirit in a young group missing 18 front-line players.
With seven absent on international duty and a further 11 on the injury list the Ospreys resources were stretched to the limit but scrum-half Roberts handed the credit to the coaching team for what they are developing at the Liberty Stadium.
“It’s an outstanding effort really” he said.
“Credit has to go to Steve and the coaches, they’ve identified, recruited and developed guys who want to play for the Ospreys shirt and I think you could see that. The young lads put their hands up, the boys coming off the bench were up for it and I think that was a big reason that we were able to kick on and pick up what was, in the end, a pretty decent win.
“We found the first half a bit tough. We played ourselves into some good areas but didn’t take advantage for whatever reason and couldn’t get onto the scoreboard. We had a few things highlighted to us at half time and we learned our lessons quickly, came out for the second half and scored an early try which put us in good stead.
“It’s pleasing to get the win. Connacht are always a tough side, so it’s nice to be able to get back to winning ways straight away after last weekend. “
It was only Roberts’ second start of the season following his return to the Liberty Stadium in the summer but he says he’s enjoying being back in a black jersey:
“I’m absolutely loving it. It’s nice to come back into a group that is so together. It’s a young group but I feel that I can add my experience to hopefully make a difference. I’ve been fortunate enough to play for two top sides in England, Northampton and Bath, so I’ve experienced different environments since I was last here and hopefully that means I can give a different perspective.
“It’s a young group, there’s a vibrancy and they want to learn. I think that shows in the start to the season we’ve had. The guys have really worked hard in pre-season, week by week, and are always looking to improve. We aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but there’s a real willingness to learn in the group.
“We’ve got two tough games away from home but it’s certainly a good opportunity for me. It’s great coming off the bench but sometimes when you aren’t starting you lack that feel for the game. I was very happy to start on Friday night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully I can build on that this month and give the coaches a tough choice when the international come back.”
His try on Friday night was only his second in 30 appearances for the region – and his first since May 2008 when he touched down in the final minute of a 24-20 defeat away to the same opponents, Connacht, in what was his last game during his first spell as an Osprey.
“I’ve waited a while for it” laughed Roberts.
“I thought I’d scored a couple of weeks ago but was robbed because of an obstruction. I like to run that inside line, sometimes you get it, some times you don’t. I’ll keep running them and hopefully I’ll get a few more but I won’t worry if I don’t as long as the team keep winning.”