A ‘beautiful time’ says Scott

Guinness PRO12 Editor

27 Jan 2011


Scott Johnson says the two Magners League games that take place on international weekends will be a special time for all involved.

In a change from last season’s format, the addition of Italian sides Aironi Rugby and Benetton Treviso means Rounds 14 and 16 take place on Six Nations weekends this year.

And while that will result in some of the League’s biggest stars missing out on Magners action, Johnson believes it will give us all a glimpse of the future.

The former Wales, Australia and USA coach admits it’s a challenging time for the 12 clubs but remains convinced it will be a hugely beneficial experience for everyone involved.

"It’s great for the sport," said Johnson, whose men host Ulster in Round 14 on Friday, February 11, before welcoming Aironi to the Liberty Stadium a fortnight later.

"It’s a difficult time for coaches and for supporters but it’s good for the region and for what we stand for. The kids that we want to bring through in this period are largely local kids.

"You’ve got to look at the amount of international duty these days. The new format of the Magners League puts pressure on sides. This time last year we wouldn’t have been playing games like these.

"But it’s a beautiful time. There are players out there that we don’t really know how good they are but in 12 or 15 or 18 months, we might see them as special."


Justin Tipuric is one of a number of youngsters getting game time

Blooding new talent is nothing new as far as the Ospreys are concerned.

The reigning Magners League Champions may be known for their vast amount of international stars but the region is equally proud of its ability to develop local talent.

While the likes of Shane Williams, Tommy Bowe and Jerry Collins may grab the headlines, youngsters from the Neath and Swansea area such as Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb and Ashley Beck have all featured heavily already this season.

You can be guaranteed there is still plenty more to come from Tom Prydie and Kristian Phillips, while Ben White is starting to really show his worth and will surely get even more game time while Ryan Jones and Jonathan Thomas are away with the Wales squad.

Big things are expected of 18-year-old utility back Eli Walker and Wales U-20 fly-half Matthew Jarvis, with those in the know also predicting lofty careers for Morgan Allen and James King.

Clearly fully aware of the young talent coming through, Johnson knows that game time is the best way for these players to learn their trade.

And with the lengthy international season having already affected the availability of many of his big names, game time is exactly what the next generation of Ospreys have had so far this term.


Rhys Webb is another Osprey enjoying playing and not just training

"We felt that we’d start slow this year because of restrictions on players and trying to look after the national cause," added Johnson.

"We had a lot of players unavailable for the first three or four games and we were trying to be respectful of their causes as we want them to do as well as they can in the World Cup.

"We’ve trained with our biggest group this year. We thought we might be a little slow out of the blocks but it’s really nice to see these younger groups get a bit of game time. I think it’s imperative for the region.

"When you look at next season being a World Cup year, the same things apply. Our preparation was not just about this year because needs must, but it’s also about next season with an eye on the World Cup.

"It puts pressure on the other blokes as they’re not guaranteed spots. We want a competitive team and a competitive squad. With the introduction of a lot of players that people don’t know doing really, really well, that strengthens our squad and strengthens what we’re about."