Alun Wyn Jones is backing the Osrpeys' youngsters to come good
Wales lynch-pin Alun Wyn Jones is relishing the chance to be a part of Steve Tandy's Ospreys revolution. And the British & Irish Lions star is backing the new-look region to improve on last year's fifth placed Guinness PRO12 finish and break into play-off contention.
They must mount a challenge without the international experience of Ryan Jones, Richard Hibbard, Ian Evans and Adam Jones, who have all headed for the exit door at the Liberty Stadium. But the 29-year-old lock reckons the team spirit instilled by Tandy will help the region's youngsters excel on the big stage.
He said: "We're relying on the youth and team ethic we have and that's what we have to do with the changing landscape in rugby. We've always relied on individuals and the big names that we had that have now moved on.
"We can't afford to do that now. I feel like a constant in the Ospreys jersey and I was encouraged by Steve Tandy's plans for the region moving forward."
The four-time champions kick-off the new campaign at home to Benetton Treviso on Friday night. And new recruits Rynier Bernardo, Josh Matevesi, Martin Roberts, Cai Griffiths, Dan Evans and Sam Parry will be looking to get off to a flying start against the Italians.
Tandy has seen 16 up-and-coming youngsters commit their futures to the region and Jones reckons the local talent can push for a place in Wales' World Cup squad come next summer.
He said: "Wales can still compete on the World stage - hopefully there will be fresh blood putting pressure on established players like myself. Nicky Smith and Eli Walker have been great in the Under-20s jersey and impressive when they have been in the team for a run of games.
"We've still got Justin Tipuric, Dan Biggar and other impressive guys coming through the ranks like Dan Baker."
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference