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."
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series