Three to watch: Ospreys

Joe Leavey
19 July 2018

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A tricky season for Ospreys last year saw them finish fifth in Conference A, missing out on European Champions Cup qualification after they were beaten 35-17 by Ulster in a play-off.

It’s been an off-season of change for the club this summer too, with Allen Clarke replacing Steve Tandy as head coach and several big names having been recruited to the Liberty Stadium.

In the latest of our series looking at key players to look out for in 2018/19, here’s three to watch from the Ospreys.

George North

What better place to start than with the Welsh international and two-time Lions tourist, one of the biggest transfers in European rugby this summer.

One of the most high-profile players in Welsh rugby, North finally chose to join Ospreys from Northampton on a National Dual Contract after announcing that he would be returning to Wales in November 2017.

North brings undoubted star quality to an Ospreys side but most of all brings tries.

His try-scoring ability is unparalleled – North notched up 27 in 60 English Premiership matches for Northampton and currently sits third in the all-time Wales charts with 33.

The 26-year-old helped Saints to a Premiership and Challenge Cup double in his first season in Northampton and was most recently seen helping Wales to a first series in in Argentina since 1999.

Scott Williams

North will be joined at the Liberty by compatriot and fellow established Wales player Williams.

The 27-year-old centre joins from the Scarlets – where he briefly played alongside North – after more than a decade with both club and region.

It will be a new challenge for Williams after he enjoyed huge success at Parc y Scarlets in recent years, winning the Championship in 2017 and finishing as runners-up in the competition last season.

Williams has impressive pedigree at international level and looks a canny signing as Ospreys look to fire their way up the Guinness PRO14 table.

Centre Kieron Fonotia has moved the other way, crossing the Loughor Bridge to sign for Scarlets.

Tom Botha

Head coach Clarke and Dan Griffiths, Ospreys’ rugby general manager, have clearly concentrated on improving their front-row and have found an excellent player to do that in the sizeable shape of Tom Botha.

Signed from Conference A rivals Toyota Cheetahs, Botha has built up a reputation as being one of the strongest scrummagers in the Guinness Pro14.

Standing at 1.79m tall and 110kg, he has previously spoken of his love of Guinness PRO14 matches where forwards get to exert their power.

He will compete with fellow new signing Gheorghe Gaijon, Ma’afu Fia, Alex Jeffries and Mitchell Walsh for the tighhead jersey at Ospreys in 2018/19.

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