Ospreys: Jonathan Spratt is hoping to take chance to express himself this month
JONATHAN Spratt has just finished reading Inferno, a mystery thriller about a bloke trying to decipher a series of codes as he battles desperately to save the world from a terrifying threat.
There are breathless chases, an escape, a suicide, a mad scientist and a bioterrorism plot packed into Dan Brown's novel.
It is, it is fair to say, a pulse quickener.
After that, a fixture in the RaboDirect Pro12 might probably feel mundane, particularly with current internationals on both sides being away on autumn Test duty.
But another way of looking at it is that the encounter between Munster and the Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday night does see first playing second in the table. It is the most significant fixture in the league this weekend. It shouldn't really need a Don King to promote it.
Spratt is certainly up for the challenge.
"It's a big game," he said.
"Munster are a heavyweight of European rugby and will be looking to do well at Thomond Park.
"Like us, they'll be missing a few boys for the autumn Tests, but a league is about squad strength over a season and so it is up to players on both sides to step up.
"It should be a really good game."
Law graduate Spratt is a throwback in many respects, a centre who employs craft rather than just takes route one into the heart of the opposition cover.
He is set to be up against a kindred spirit this weekend in Casey Laulala, Munster's offload king who has long been one of the most gifted players in the Pro12 league.
"He has very silky skills," said Spratt.
"Not only does he have clever footwork, he also has the ability to pass — plus a good hand-off.
"He's just a good player, who is defensively very strong, and alongside him is James Downey, a physical player who complements Casey nicely.
"We just have to see if we can impose our game on them."
The Ospreys are likely to have their own contrasting midfield duo in Limerick, with Andrew Bishop favourite to feature alongside Spratt.
Bishop's game doesn't involve catherine wheels, rockets, sparklers and Roman candles.
But there are few more dependable midfield men in rugby.
He is now up to 196 appearances for the Ospreys and remains one of the most valued players at the Liberty, a reassuring presence who holds the backline together.
"It's great playing alongside Andrew," said Spratt.
"I've been a team-mate of his for a number of years and you know what you are getting.
"He brings experience and defensively there's no-one better. With almost 200 caps for the Ospreys, he knows what we're all about and he brings the same attitude every time he trains and plays."
It's a heady time for Spratt, with a recall to the Wales team in the summer, an injury-free start to the campaign with the Ospreys and the football team he supports, Liverpool, enjoying their most promising opening to a campaign in years.
"My dad's a Scouser and I've grown up following Liverpool," said Spratt.
"They're having a good season, but I don't want to speak too soon. Let's see what happens after Christmas."
If there's caution on that front, Spratt doesn't buy the idea that the Ospreys have been employing an overly conservative approach this season, relying too much on their forwards and not spreading the ball wide often enough.
"Ultimately, we go out to try to win games," he said.
"We're happy with the strength of our forwards and against the Dragons we did play much of the game through them, but you treat each game on merit and adapt your approach accordingly. It's all about being pragmatic.
"Hopefully, we'll express ourselves this month.
"We are missing an abundance of internationals, but we have a nice blend of youth and experience and we are looking to keep our league form going."
And the verdict on Inferno? "Really good," declared Spratt.
The Ospreys' coaches will hope the reviews are just as favourable about their side against the league leaders.