Gruff Rees reckons Rhys Webb can become an even better player and push for the Welsh No.9 jersey
The Ospreys hope livewire scrum-half Rhys Webb will become more of a general in the new season.
Webb was the most potent scrum-half in last season's RaboDirect PRO12, making more clean breaks and beating more defenders than any of his rivals.
But the Ospreys want the Wales squad member to master his tactical game.
"Rhys has the ability to run a game," Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees told the South Wales Evening Post.
"We are working with him on things like when it's appropriate to take a tap and go, when it's appropriate to reset and take another scrum.
"People talk a lot about game-management, but for me it's about emotional intelligence. It's about understanding the context of a game and the ebb and flow, understanding when we might need a breather as a team or when we need to go for the jugular.
"A lot of it is about developing what people feel is intuitive but is actually trained by experience and knowledge over a period of time."
Rees reckons former Wales scrum-half Robert Jones as an example of this. Jones was a supremely gifted player, who won 54 Welsh caps, but he still had to work on the finer tactics of the game,
"Even someone like Robert had to learn his stuff when he was coming through," added Rees.
"He was very reflective and self-aware, conscious of the need to improve, and that's what we are trying to create in our kids as well.
"The aim is to foster an environment so players learn for themselves. People who understand the process of what is needed, like Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny, will come through.
"They understand that the way to progress is to augment natural talent with hard work. The penny has also dropped for Rhys. He has put in the hours over the past few years and is starting to reap the rewards."
Rees ended the season Down Under on Wales' tour of South Africa. He established himself as Rob Howley's second-choice scrum-half, coming on as a replacement in Melbourne.
But Rees wants to put Webb in the position to challenge Mike Phillips for the No.9 jersey.
"Rhys should have the ambition to challenge for the Wales No. 9 jersey in the coming season," said Rees.
"He's had a taste of the Test scene now and won a few caps but it is up to him to push on and press Mike as hard as he can.I know he has that mentality.
"He has made the transition from good athlete to good rugby player. He understands some of the key messages we are trying to drive and he played an important part in us winning the title last season.
"We want our No. 9s to be a primary threat and the stats show that last term Rhys beat more defenders and made more clean breaks than any other scrum-half in the RaboDirect league.
"He is developing nicely as a player. He is learning to control the tempo of a match, when it needs to be quick and slow, and the challenge will be for him to be a bit more selfless in his play rather than it being the Rhys Webb show.
"But we are very pleased with his progress. He is a kid who is very much on the up."
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