Tommy Bowe has described the strength in depth at the Ospreys as ‘ridiculous’.
The Ireland international, who was named Magners Players’ Player of the Year last week, believes the Liberty Stadium outfit now have the strongest squad in the region’s history.
Director of coaching Scott Johnson and head coach Sean Holley can call upon a remarkable 23 Welsh internationals, plus one each from Ireland and Scotland and two former All Blacks when selecting their matchday squad.
And despite picking up both the Irish and Welsh Professional Players awards last season, Bowe insists that even a player of his stature cannot take his place in the starting line up for granted.
“I don’t think there is anyone in this squad who feels his place is safe and secure,” Bowe, who was one of two try scorers in the Ospreys’ Grand Final triumph in Dublin back in May, told walesonline.
”And I mean from our new skipper Alun Wyn Jones, through James Hook and Lee Byrne, Adam Jones and Shane Williams, down to Mike Phillips and me.
”It is ridiculous the strength in depth we have here.
“In my case I already have Shane (Williams) and Nikki Walker to battle with for a place on the wing, and now they’ve brought in Richard Fussell from the Dragons. Then you have the youngsters coming through like Tom Prydie, Kristian Phillips and Eli Walker.
“These guys are literally flying about the place and I’m just trying to keep up with them.
“We have a good bunch of players and we are trying to build something very special here. With all the young players coming through the Academy ranks you have to be special to be picked for the Ospreys – and that makes it very special to get into the side.”
The Ospreys are looking to create history this year as they go after back-to-back Magners League titles – a feat that no side is yet to achieve.
And while the bookmakers have Bowe and co among the favourites to do just that, the 26-year-old admits that staying at the summit will be even tougher than scaling it in the first place.
“However difficult it was for the Ospreys to win the Magners League last season, we all know it is going to be even harder to repeat that success over the next nine months,” added Bowe, who will miss a return to his native Belfast in Round One but expects to make his first appearance of the new season against Aironi Rugby at the end of the month.
“No team has ever managed to defend this title over the past nine years and there will be four more regular league fixtures this time round with the introduction of the two Italian teams.
“Every team has an eye on winning the Magners League and we are up there to be shot at again this season. We start with a trip to Ravenhill to face Ulster and that is going to be very difficult for us because Ulster have spent a lot of money this summer on bringing in a lot of senior players.
“We are very proud of the fact we won in at all four Irish grounds last season, including the victory over Leinster in the Grand Final in Dublin. That was a great victory for us and something that some people didn’t expect from us.
“All we want to do at the Ospreys is build on last season and keep moving this region forward. I think the fact that I have signed for an extra three years shows that I feel we are really going places.”