Ospreys name team to tackle bottom placed Connacht
20 February 2009 15:27pm
Ospreys Coach Sean Holley says his side are in a strong position going into the second half of the Magners League season
The EDF champions second on the table are in the final eight of the Heinken Cup. They may be without their Wales players for this weekend's clash with bottom club Connacht. but Holley says that will not affect his team.
"Connacht may feel that we are a depleted side, but our success this season and in the past is down to us having a strong squad and players who are all challenging for places in the starting fifteen. The side that we have named is a good mix of youth an experience, with a lot of quality in the team.
"We're in a strong position in the Magners League, and with two home matches during the Six Nations period it is imperative that we maintain the standards we have set so far this season. It is very tight at the top of the table, so we know what we have to do in order to not only keep up the pressure on Munster at the top, but also allow us to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
"There is some fine young talent within the Ospreys region and I'm excited about the prospect of seeing the likes of Jonathan Spratt and Ashley Beck in action, especially with Andrew Bishop being recalled back to the Wales squad.
"Kristian Phillips has been showing some real quality with Wales Under-20's and deserves his start in the game and it is great to see Gareth Owen back after a long spell out with injury. Ryan Bevington has impressed in training and in the Welsh Premiership, along with Craig Mitchell, and just gets the nod on the bench.
"With the return from injury of Sonny Parker and Andy Lloyd, along with Spratt and Owen, and the arrival of Filipo Levi who will be making his Ospreys debut, the competition for places grows even stronger. There are players involved on Sunday with points to prove, and there are a lot of leaders in the team that understand the importance of this game. It all makes for what will, I'm sure, be a very interesting game, and having not had a game for four weeks now, we cannot wait for 2.15 on Sunday to come."
The Ospreys team to face Connacht in the Magners League on Sunday 22nd February 2009 at Liberty Stadium, kick off at 2.15pm.
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