Ospreys coach Steve Tandy laid down the gauntlet to his troops to make history by becoming the first team to defend their RaboDirect PRO12 title.
May’s pulsating 31-30 RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat of Leinster is becoming a fast receding memory with Tandy warning his team that the challenge will become even tougher next season.
During the post-season Tandy has had to contend with the loss of legendary Welsh winger Shane Williams, prop Paul James and Ireland international wing Tommy Bowe.
But Tandy is confident the next generation of Ospreys can fill the void even if he concedes that the rest of the RaboDirect PRO12 will be itching to knock them off their perch.
He said: “We are proud to be the champions and it is not something we will give up lightly and we are looking forward to the start of the season.
“It [winning back-to-back titles] has not been done before. We all strive for success, we want to be competitive in all competitions and to finish off the season by winning in Dublin was fantastic.
“But that’s gone now, it is a new season and it is a fresh challenge. I think the Rabo has got stronger, the teams are improving and so it is going to be a difficult defence of our title but we will try our damnedest to do.
“I think losing players is a reflection of the current climate financially. We are still fortunate to have a hell of a lot of Grand Slam winners and Lions in the team and when you look back to that final against Leinster we have lost Shane, who has gone to Japan, and Paul James, who has gone to Bath, but the rest of the squad are there.
“Then you have Duncan Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Ian Gough who were not even in the squad for Leinster.
“A lot of the guys who have moved on were squad players and they were great for us but it is something we will put up with. We are fortunate we have a lot of young kids coming through our age-grade system.
“We will go through some indifferent performances when we blood these youngsters but it is something we need to do to learn.
“Fortunately we have got a lot of experience in the group with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones.
“It will only be beneficial for these guys rubbing shoulders day to day and performing with them to show where they need to be at for the level we need them to be for the Ospreys.”