Habberfield sets sights on filling void at scrum-half
TOM Habberfield has already set his goal for next season — to help the Ospreys plug the gap left at scrum-half by the departing Kahn Fotuali'i.
The youngster who starred for Wales Under-20s at the junior World Cup is keen to push Rhys Webb all the way for the No. 9 jersey in 2013-14.
Fotuali'i is leaving the Ospreys and joining Northampton after two successful seasons at the Liberty, and Habberfield will be sorry to see him go.
"Kahn's a top guy, on and off the field, and been a great mentor for me and good for everyone at the Ospreys," he said.
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"I've learned loads from him.
"He stays on after training to help me and is always giving tips and pointers.
"He's just got something about him that brings everyone together — everyone wants to work for each other.
"He's on another level really and will be a big loss, but I wish him all the best.
"I'm hoping I'll have a run of games at scrum-half. I hope to be pushing for that nine spot week-in, week-out now. That's my goal for next season."
Habberfield has been playing on the wing to help the Ospreys overcome the crisis out wide that has gripped them this season.
Two of his three starts have been with a No. 14 on his back, one of those in the Heineken Cup against Leicester, when he was drafted into the side at short notice after an injury during the warm-up.
But it is as a scrum-half that he has particularly caught the eye, with his outstanding tactical display helping to engineer the under-20s' famous victory over New Zealand at the junior World Cup.
For the time being, though, he is only too happy to help out by filling in out wide, where the Ospreys are operating without their first-choice wings Eli Walker and Hanno Dirksen.
"The coaches do want me as a nine but I'm happy to do my part for the team if we are down on players," said Habberfield, who features on the right wing against Connacht in Galway this evening (7.45pm).
"I'd rather play in my usual position, but I'm grateful that the coaches are trusting me to play.
"The immediate challenge is to do well as a team this evening.
"We beat Ulster last week and that was a big effort but if you have one great win followed by a couple of losses it's not worth anything.
"We have to back it up."