Ospreys' Canadian cover at scrum-half
THE Ospreys have strengthened their Canadian connection by bringing in international scrum-half Phil Mack on a short-term contract.
Injuries to Rhys Webb and Tom Habberfield have meant the Welsh region have been walking a tightrope in a key position, with Tito Tebaldi the only fit specialist No. 9 in the senior squad.
But the 14-cap Mack will help head off the risk of any potential problems.
Rugby operations manager Andy Lloyd said: "Phil will provide us with some much-needed cover in a crucial position over the coming weeks, so we are pleased to secure his services.
"With Rhys sidelined, Tom's untimely pre-season injury has left us light at scrum-half, having only a winger or untried youngsters as cover.
"We felt it was crucial we acted swiftly, and in Phil we have someone who has impressed at international level and can come in at short notice and do a job.
"We are also grateful to the WRU for their understanding."
The Ospreys have been using Tom Grabham as cover but he is viewed mainly as a wing.
Mack started in Canada's recent back-to-back wins over the USA and was first choice for the international with Ireland in June. Hailing from Victoria in British Columbia, the 27-year-old has also represented his country on the IRB sevens circuit.
He becomes the third Canadian at the Ospreys, joining Tyler Ardron and Jeff Hassler, who arrived at the Liberty Stadium earlier this summer.
Meantime, Chris Gibbes has acclaimed the region's "awesome" resolve after they forced a 29-29 draw with the last kick of the game in Saturday's Pro12 clash with Leinster in Dublin.
Having left a lead slip at the RDS, the Welsh side were three points adrift of the champions when Dan Biggar nervelessly fired over a penalty to give his team a share of the spoils.
"The tenacity and effort were awesome," said Gibbes.
"We've taken six points from two away games to start the season, which is very pleasing from a team perspective, even if performance-wise we came up a bit short in some areas of our game against Leinster.
"We had a few opportunities, and we took two of them, but we need to be better at securing field position and then making more of it once we've done that.
"Leinster are a good side who are really hard to stop when they build momentum, as we found out in the first quarter and then in the last ten minutes when we let them take the initiative away from us, which was disappointing.
"But we have to look at the bigger picture. We've come to the RDS looking to get a result and we are leaving with two points that could prove extremely valuable as the season progresses.
"We've had two away games against very difficult opposition and although it's not been perfect by any means, we are heading in the right direction and are unbeaten with plenty of things to work on and improve. That's a good position to be in."
The Ospreys open their home campaign when Edinburgh visit Swansea on Saturday evening.
"We'd expect there to be a bit of a buzz about the place and everyone is looking forward to it," added Gibbes.
"There was good and bad about our performance against Leinster.
"But however you look at it, you can't get away from the tenacity and character that we've shown. If we can retain that attitude and continue improving in certain areas each week, then we can start to build something this season."