DFP Header Area

Ospreys seek strength in depth

Guinness PRO12 Editor

9 Aug 2010

Magners League Champions the Ospreys believe their latest pre-season friendly will prove another important step as they prepare for the defence of their coveted crown.

The Liberty Stadium outfit begin the new league campaign at Ulster three weeks on Friday having won their second Celtic title thanks to a 17-12 victory over Leinster in last season’s inaugural Grand Final.

This season’s tournament has been expanded to 12 teams with Italian franchises Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby entering the fray.

Their introduction will lead to a bigger fixture list and the Ospreys hierarchy believe that in turn will make strength in depth even more important in an increasingly competitive league.

With that in mind, the Ospreys have decided to take on a Regional Select XV at Aberavon tomorrow in a match that head coach Sean Holley insists is about far more than just match fitness.

''These boys have to show what they can do when they get their chances,'' said Holley, who will give a host of up and coming stars a chance to shine at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

''I'm excited about it because I know the potential there is in the squad among the youngsters. A lot of them have been asking for opportunities for a long time, so this season we will see how ready they are to occupy places on the front line.

''I am thinking of guys like Gareth Owen, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Ben Lewis, James Goode, Conor McInerney, Justin Tipuric, Dai Flanagan and Ryan Bevington.

''They are going to have to hold the fort in the Magners League games when the Wales boys are away, alongside the likes of Mefin (Davies), Richard Fussell and Tom Smith. We really need them perform and fill important roles.

''History shows how important it is for the squad to fire on all cylinders. When we won our first Celtic title in 2004/05, the likes of Stefan Terblanche, Elvis Seveali'i, Jason Spice, Barry Williams, Andrew Millward, Steve Tandy and Gareth Newman did fantastically for us.''