Disappointed Bishop has Connacht in sights
THE Ospreys' players went to the cinema this week to watch a film about a retired CIA agent at odds with a group of Albanian kidnappers.
Taken 2 is tense, taut and at times seriously violent.
Whether any special forces skills will be required to dispose of Connacht at the Liberty this weekend remains to be seen.
But the Ospreys' coaches saw the Wednesday afternoon trip to the movies as a decent way to re-bond the players after the shattering 39-22 loss to Leicester at Welford Road.
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The question tomorrow is how the squad will respond after the mentally and physically draining experience of last weekend.
Will they feel sorry for themselves and find it difficult to raise their game after seeing their victory hopes unravel so spectacularly in the final ten minutes in the East Midlands?
Or will they come out determined to make someone pay, unleashing their frustration on Connacht.
It is in games like these that the character of a team is truly revealed.
For the best sides don't require big-name opposition in a high-profile tournament to come up with a compelling performance.
They are self-motivating, intent on hitting the same high standard whether it is against the Tigers in the Heineken Cup or Connacht in the RaboDirect Pro12.
Encouragingly for Ospreys supporters, the plan in midweek was to field the strongest possible team against Irish rugby's Cinderella side.
Wales's autumn series may be coming and there may be a training camp in Poland starting on Sunday. But those factors haven't been to the fore at the region's training base in Llandarcy this week.
"All the internationals who are fit will play," said assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys.
"We have an environment where people want to play and that is the case this week.
"The boys don't think about saving themselves for this and that. They want to get out on the field and leave the region on a good note. It's going to be hard for them to pick themselves up after last week.
"But they want to play for the Ospreys."
Which is just as well because if they are going to challenge for a place in the end-of-season play-offs, the champions can ill-afford to hit more problems at home, having already lost twice in Swansea this season.
"You have to play well not just against Connacht but in all games at home, regardless of who the opposition are," said Humphreys.
"We want to win in front of our supporters.
"Unfortunately, we dropped two early games at home, so we can't afford to drop too many more."
If there is one player who will be on a particular mission tomorrow, it is Andrew Bishop, omitted from the Wales squad for the autumn despite a series of strong early-season performances.
In his joust with Manu Tuilagi last week, the former Neath man didn't let anything pass all afternoon, returning tackle stats of 14-0.
But Tuilagi still scored two tries and the challenge for Bishop is the perennial one of developing his own attacking game.
If he can do that, his representative chances will improve immeasurably.
"I'm disappointed not to be in the Wales squad but you just have to move on," said Bishop.
"My form has been pretty good but I wasn't expecting anything.
"Rob Howley told me before the squad was announced that I wasn't selected and that it was a close call but he'd picked the four centres who are on form.
"I've got to respect the decision and try to crack on at the Ospreys.
"It's good that Rob took the trouble to let me know. He's good like that. He is not one of those coaches who reveal everything in the press. He makes an effort for you.
"What I have to do is knuckle down at regional level. Then, who knows what could happen.
"In the past I've been called in halfway through Wales camps, so although I'm disappointed I will put it behind me instead of dwelling on things.
"Every player has highs and lows in a career — you just have to deal with them. If you are not a person who can get over the lows then you won't make it. They're part and parcel of sport."
The man-management skills of the Ospreys coaches will be tested this week.
Not only do they have to lift their players after the loss to Leicester, but they also have to persuade the likes of Bishop, Rhys Webb and Jonathan Thomas to pick their heads up after missing out with Wales.
"Steve has told us all to draw a line under the European game," said Bishop.
"We know how important it is to get back to winning ways.
"We have to go out tomorrow, perform much better than we did last weekend and play for a full 80 minutes.
"Connacht are a physical team who will throw a lot at us and we have struggled against them at the Liberty in the past.
"Maybe we've been complacent in those games but the physical test we had last week was up a level and we have to take that to Connacht this weekend.
"If we want a top-four finish then we have to beat sides like Connacht at home."