Youth can be “a positive”

Teenage openside Sam Underhill has backed the young Ospreys squad to bounce back from their disappointing opening to the new PRO12 campaign.

The 19-year old flanker was one of two teenagers making their first ever Ospreys starts in Sunday’s defeat to Munster at the Liberty Stadium, and one of seven players aged 21 or under to see action on the day.

Underhill’s all action performance was rewarded with the official Guinness Man of the Match award, but he insisted that the team came first which means he won’t be getting carried away with the personal recognition.

“On an individual basis I have to be relatively happy with how it went in terms of my own performance but I can’t be happy with a loss. It’s about the team, not about me” he said.

“We’re all really disappointed with losing the game like we did. The effort has been there all week, the performance was an improvement on Ulster, but we couldn’t see the game off. The attitude is there but we need to be more clinical I suppose.

“The trick now is not to get down heartened, keep striving to be better and better. Like I said, the attitude is there, we just need to clean up aspects of our game.”

Reflecting on the youthful look to the Ospreys squad at the moment, with 20 players missing on Sunday due to Rugby World Cup duty or injury, Underhill refused to be downbeat.

“I think we get a lot of energy from the youthfulness to be honest” was his immediate response.

“I would say that, wouldn’t I?

“You look at people like Owen Watkin, debuting in a big game like Munster and he really brought something to the team, Olly Cracknell off the bench. Even some of the more established players are still only 20, 21, and have played a lot of rugby, so we can’t talk about the youthfulness of the team as a negative. It’s something that we can use as a positive moving forward.

“We’ve got older boys out there who are really good at providing the guidance, making sure we keep cool heads. Where we lost the game tonight wasn’t down to young players, it was about not being accurate or clinical enough when we’d put ourselves in a winning position.”

With three weeks until the Ospreys are next in action, away to Edinburgh on Friday 2nd October, Underhill says that the players must make the most of the downtime to regroup:

“We’ve got a bit more time than usual to sit down and review the last two games now, to ensure we come back stronger, and we have to make sure we use that time wisely.

“It’s very early in the season, we’ve only played two games and, okay, they haven’t gone our way, but we’ll keep putting in the hard work and effort to keep improving.

“We showed out there against a good Munster side that we can be competitive with this squad. What we have to do now is make that next step, be more than just competitive, and show that we can hold on when we get ourselves into a winning position."