Gruff Rees believes new defence coach Brad Davis’ sharpening up of Ospreys’ defensive structures will make a real difference in the Guinness PRO12 this season.
Davis was announced as the club’s new defence coach in May having spent three years in a similar role with Wasps and saw his new club beat Leicester Tigers in their first pre-season game on Friday.
The Ospreys are now in Belgium for a fixture against the country’s national team before a return fixture against the Tigers a week before opening their Guinness PRO12 campaign against Zebre.
And backs coach Rees was full of praise for the impact Davis has had on the squad as the Ospreys look to re-engage with some former defensive strategies.
He said: “Brad coming in has given us a real defensive sharpening, lots of new learning has taken place and the players have been challenged by that,” he said.
“We are not just assuming knowledge and actually we’ve revisited and gone back with the most senior of players around their defensive work which will really make a difference.
“Every team sends out a good vibe in the summer before the competitive action kicks in but I truly feel we are being specific with the work we are doing.
“I think the players know the parameters of what we are trying to achieve.”
The Ospreys will be looking to improve on an eighth-placed finish in last year’s Guinness PRO12 which saw them miss out on qualification for the European Champions Cup.
They conceded 49 tries last year in the regular league, three more than eventual champions Connacht and 22 more than the Leinster who had the Guinness PRO12’s most watertight defence.
“It is seeing the defence again as a form of attack which is part of Brad’s mantra which is something I have taken to straight away,” said Rees.
“It’s using it as a means to get the ball back. There are things structurally where we’ll have backs in the right positions to take advantage of turnovers for example.
“It’s getting competitive in training as well where the focus should not be attack or defence but both have got to complement each other.
“Doing more specific decision making at that end excites me as well.”
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