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."
Meet the members of the WRU's inaugural Youth Board - after an online selection process which saw a host of high calibre candidates submit video applications the WRU has made its first 15 appointments.The board is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 21, and will meet for the first time at Principality Stadium on Monday 15th February.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose
WRUTV caught up with Wales Women captain Rachel Taylor at the RBS 6 Nations launch and how a good crowd really helps boost the girls performance. Tickets for all three Women's home games at The Gnoll, Neath are available from www.wru.wales/tickets