Bearman rested and ready to get back in the action
JOE Bearman had the unusual task of carrying water bottles for the Ospreys last weekend.
But when they face Ulster tonight, it will be back to lugging the ball for the bruising back-rower.
With the Ospreys fielding a youthful side which lost narrowly to Harlequins in the LV= Cup last Sunday, senior players such as Bearman contributed to the cause by offering their services behind the scenes.
Veteran prop Duncan Jones assisted with the coaching beforehand and, when pint-sized fly-half Matthew Morgan was lining up his penalties, it was the imposing figure of Bearman who towered over him with a kicking tee in one hand and a water bottle in the other.
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On a miserable afternoon at Bridgend's Brewery Field, the sight of the Ospreys' most seasoned campaigners helping their fledgling team-mates in this manner was a picture of team spirit and an indication of how the tag of Galacticos super stardom has been banished at the region.
Recent successes such as last season's RaboDirect Pro12 title have been built on a foundation of grit rather than glamour, and the Ospreys will need another obdurate display if they are to win away at table-toppers Ulster tonight.
"These are the sort of games you're paid for, and the boys are absolutely psyched," said Bearman.
"We've been training well and, with some of the younger boys coming in, we've got a really good mix.
"Both sides have got some players missing but it should be a good game. Ulster are probably one of the best teams in the world.
"Maybe it's an opportunity for us to get something at Ravenhill tonight because Ulster will be missing some players.
"These will be two very good teams going head-to-head so hopefully it will be an exciting game."
Bearman will be one of many senior Ospreys players who will return from a fortnight's rest for this evening's encounter at Ravenhill.
The region used their last two LV= Cup fixtures to give their first-teamers a little respite and their youngsters some valuable experience, and Bearman is encouraged by the blend of battle-hardened and fresh- faced.
"It's been really good for us as a squad, having the young guys play and learn a lot," he said.
"The LV= Cup was a learning experience for the youngsters, and I think it's proved to be good.
"I thought I did a very good job of carrying the water! That's part and parcel of the game. It's a good atmosphere at the Ospreys at the moment.
"I've been off for a few weeks and feel good after a rest — a few of the boys are in the same position. Hopefully we can perform well and bring the youngsters through."
Another of the Ospreys' returning cavalry will be Alun Wyn Jones, the Wales lock who has not played since November because of a shoulder injury.
The second row has been a significant loss for both his country and region in recent weeks, and Bearman is delighted to have him available again.
"Alun Wyn, as a player, captain and a guy around the training field, is a huge influence and it will be great to have him back," he said.
"He's a really good guy. He'll work hard for you, whether he's fit or not. The boys are excited to have him back. It's another bullet in the gun."
Jones's return is a timely one for the Ospreys, as league leaders Ulster have yet to lose at Ravenhill in the Pro12 this season. But the reigning champions have won two of their last four matches in Belfast, and Bearman believes they can claim another memorable victory tonight.
"The pitch won't be great, the weather will be wet and windy, and the crowd will be huge," he added.
"Sometimes you just have to go there and win, whether it's in the rain, the mud or the sun. Living in Wales we're quite used to it.
"We're confident this week and this game is going to be huge. Coming out of this month, we'll see where we stand in the table. Hopefully it will be in the top four."