Joe Bearman expects the Ospreys' pre-season preparations to intensify in France
Joe Bearman expects the Ospreys to step their pre-season preparations up a gear in France next week.
The RaboDirect PRO12 champions head to Issoir in central France for a five-day boot-camp which culminates in a clash with Clermont Auvergne.
And the back-row forward insists the training camp will be vital in the region's quest to defend their PRO12 crown
"It's going good. The boys are in good shape and everyone's feeling positive, getting stronger," said Bearman.
"We've started doing contact stuff now so we're stepping it up a bit and we'll get a better picture of where everyone is this week.
"All in all I'd say it's gone really well and the boys are all looking forward to moving up a gear next week now, going to France for the week with a game at the end of it."
Bearman has been blighted by injuries in recent years and is used to spending pre-seasons on the sidelines.
But he is fully fit, taking a full part in the Ospreys' preparations and raring for the new season.
"It's my first proper pre-season in probably three or four years so I'm feeling really good and benefiting from it," added Bearman.
"It makes all the difference in terms of preparation as it allows you to put everything in place for the season ahead instead of starting off from behind everyone else and taking half the season to catch up and really get going.
"It's an important time of the year for all rugby players."
Despite the recent hot spell, pre-season this year has been characterised by rain and wet-weather gear rather than the more expected summer weather and Bearman is relishing some French sun.
"The weather's been rubbish" added the Cornishman.
"We've just had a good week but that's about it. Pre-season is usually about avoiding sunburn and staying hydrated but this year it's just rained and rained. It's been terrible. There's nothing worse than getting up early on a summer's morning and it's still dark and it's raining.
"Rather than sunburn, every day after training it's been about getting back into the pavilion to dry out and warm up. It's been incredible really but the boys have pulled together and kept spirits high, and we've got some good work done over the last month.
"It's always good to take training somewhere else and I think we're all hoping that we'll get a bit more sunshine in France!
"Seriously though, it's an important week for everybody. Going there is about spending a bit more time working on things we've gone through in training, making sure they work, being out on the training pitch together and ironing some things out before our first game.
"There will be a lot of young boys on the trip and it'll be a good experience for them to be around the environment and to be preparing for a game against a great side like Clermont Auvergne. I'd expect everybody to get some game time at some stage out there, it's the next step for us towards the new season.
"But what happens off the field is just as important as it's the only chance for the whole squad to travel somewhere together as a group rather than just a team involved in a game. It gives everyone a chance to gel together, which is important, making sure we are getting on as a group.
"It's going to be hard work, the coaches will make sure of that, but we need to make sure that everyone feels part of it and knows what we are playing for.
"We'll come back ready to play Bath (Saturday 18th August, KO 3.00pm), and then we're into the season with a massive game away to Treviso before Ulster come to the Liberty a week later for the first home league game.
"We need to start on the front foot and pre-season will be geared towards allowing us to do that. It's going to be a huge season for us."
The Half a Game initiative is currently sweeping across Wales and proving a major success. The scheme aims to give every young player at least half a game every weekend. WRU TV recently visited a festival in Narberth where clubs have fully embraced the initiative.
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