Joe Bearman ready to fire Ospreys in new campaign
OLD Pirate Joe Bearman is preparing to set sail for another campaign with the Ospreys, still bristling with enthusiasm at the age of 34.
The evergreen back-rower provides the all-important element of experience in a youthful pack whose seven other members boast an average age of just 23 for the friendly with Worcester Warriors at the Liberty tomorrow (3).
Formerly of Cornish Pirates and the Dragons, Bearman has proved an outstanding acquisition since arriving from Rodney Parade in 2011. He may not have an asterisk next to his name in match-day programmes, but he is available throughout the season, is a tireless worker and a player who plays each game of rugby as if it might be his last, with enthusiasm bubbling over.
"I can't wait for the new season," he said at the Ospreys' base in Llandarcy yesterday, blood trickling down his face from a cut he had picked up in training.
"It does not take much motivation for a new campaign.
"We have been waiting a long time for the new season to get going and done a lot of training. We play this game because we enjoy it, and we're all looking forward to the matches starting."
The competition will be as hot as ever in the back-row at the Liberty this term, with James King, Ryan Jones, Tom Smith, Tyler Ardron, Morgan Allen, Dan Baker, Justin Tipuric, Sam Lewis and Arthur Ellis among those competing for the shirts.
But every one of those players will respect Bearman and understand how strong his challenge will be.
"There is massive competition in the back-row again, with about 12 players trying to fill three spots," laughed Bearman.
"I know my place will be under threat hugely.
"But I want to stay fit and play as many games as I can."
The Cornish-born player has been preparing to face an old mate tomorrow in Jonathan Thomas, who switched from the Ospreys to Worcester earlier in the summer.
"JT is a good boy," said Bearman.
"You could call him an Ospreys legend.
"He welcomed me with open arms when I came to the club. It would be nice to play against him."
He added: "The main thing over the next few weeks is that we hit the ground running this year because last term we began the season with three defeats on the bounce.
"That was our downfall and we ended up not making the play-offs.
"People say the start is not the be all and end all, but as we learned last year it can really affect you."