Following two wins in the opening two fixtures of the new season, Jeff Hassler says that the Ospreys are “happy” with the start made but are “looking to improve again” against Edinburgh this weekend.
The Scottish side visit the Liberty Stadium for a super Sunday of Guinness PRO12 rugby, with the game kicking off at 4.00pm, and the Canadian says that the challenge for the Ospreys will be to find the consistency essential for success.
“Going into the season some people clearly didn’t expect us to go two wins from two, that much was pretty obvious” said Hassler.
“We’ve picked up some good new players over the summer, some of the younger boys have stepped up, and it’s gone pretty well I think. Not everything’s perfect, but we are happy with the start we’ve had and are looking to improve again going into Edinburgh.
“That’s the hard thing to do. There’ll always be highs and lows, particularly with a young group where maybe they haven’t learned the consistency that’s needed to succeed. We’ve got to stay in the rhythm, focus on what we’ve got to do each week and try not to get bogged down with too many things. We need clear heads, know what is expected and deal with things one game at a time, one week at a time.”
Hassler had his first taste of the Rodney Parade atmosphere in last weekend’s win in Gwent, and he says that the experience was everything he expected from a hard fought Welsh derby:
“It was my first time going down to Rodney Parade. I’d heard a lot about it and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The crowd was loud and helped towards what was a crazy kind of game. There was never a dull moment, it was quite frenetic, but a couple of those bounces went our way in the end and we got the win we just about deserved.
“We won’t settle with just about deserving a win though, we’ve studied the game, identified our work ons, and with a long turnaround from Friday to Sunday there’s plenty of time to put things right before our next game. The expectation is that we step up another level against Edinburgh.
“They’ve got lots of new faces in their squad that we don’t necessarily know too much about. We’ve been doing our homework to make sure we are ready for what should be a pretty tough afternoon. Thankfully we’re at home, in front of our own fans, and we want to give them a good performance.”
After an impressive debut season in Ospreylia, where he scored eight tries and was named in the end of year PRO12 Dream Team, Hassler is no longer an unknown quantity but he insists that he doesn’t feel any increased pressure on him to perform this time around. He said.
“I haven’t really thought about it any differently than I did last season. We’re in a pretty healthy place in the wing position with so many good players competing for the shirt. The only pressure I really fell is internal, off the guys in the squad. I’m fortunate enough to have the shirt at the moment but there are quality players like Hanno, Aisea, Dafydd and Tom who are training really well and want the starting spot. That’s the motivation, what drives me, not external expectation.
“I’ll be training and playing the best I can, day to day and week to week. If I get selected ahead of the rest of the boys then it means the coaches are satisfied with what I’m doing and that’s the opinion that matters to me.”
Tickets for Sunday’s game against Edinburgh are available now from the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665.