Henson starts at full back for New Years Eve clash
30 December 2008 13:01pm
Ospreys coach Sean Holley wants to end an excellent year for his side on a high - by beating the in-form Cardiff Blues at a sold-out Arms Park. (kick-off 2.05pm)
Holley has selected Gavin Henson at full back for the New Years Eve clash, fully aware that taking down Dai Youngs fired up side will be a tough task in front on their home fans.
The Blues may be languishing close to the bottom of the Magners League table, but Holley knows a Welsh derby will be the perfect opportunity for them to translate fine European form to the domestic stage.
But, after a taking down the Scarlets 20-6 in the season encounter Holley is confident. He said: We go into the final Christmas derby on the back of an excellent result at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, and we face a Blues side that has been playing really well this season. They have a settled side and that has resulted in them enjoying a very productive time of late, with some good performances and notable victories. We enjoy a healthy rivalry and we are well aware that the Arms Park is a difficult place to go and get a result. But, we have gone there and won in the past and, with a full house expected, we are excited about the prospect of another big occasion.
"The next two matches, against the Blues and Munster, are very important games for us, in terms of keeping our momentum going in the Magners League. Our focus is entirely on maintaining a strong challenge at the top of the table before attentions turn to European competition again as we want to ensure that we have it all to play for, in terms of the Magners League, by the time the next crucial phase of the season comes around.
"We have had to manage our squad closely over this busy period and the performance against the Scarlets last time out showed the great character within the squad and the belief in our ability that we have. There were some great individual performances, but most satisfying was the all round team showing in the second half to overpower a very determined opposition. We've only had a few days to prepare for this match, but after a quick turnaround, the 22 selected are entirely focused on the challenge that lies in store and are looking forward to enjoying another derby match in front of a big crowd, with a passionate atmosphere."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.