Ospreys: Outstanding Tito Tebaldi filling Kahn Fotuali'i void
SPECIAL K may no longer be on the menu at the Liberty, but the Ospreys will head for Connacht tomorrow increasingly happy with the fare being dished up by Kahn Fotuali'i's scrum-half replacement.
Three games into Tito Tebaldi's time in Wales, the verdict from the Pro12 champions on the 16-cap Italian international is entirely positive.
"He's been outstanding," said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy.
"His first game was in Treviso and it was a big deal for him to head back to his home country and play against people he knows.
"But he kept his emotions in check and did really, really well out there.
"He has settled in quicker than I would have expected and been a real positive in terms of his attacking game and his kicking."
Fotuali'i excelled himself for the Ospreys in his two seasons with the region, with the Samoan a catalyst for so much that was good about the Welsh side's play during that period.
He stood out partly because he didn't need a game-plan to get the job done on a rugby pitch. He played what he saw and had a range of other attributes to complement his core skills.
But without doing anything flashy, Tebaldi has refused to be daunted by the quality of his predecessor, making good decisions, kicking well and sending out a supply of decent passes to Dan Biggar.
"I think we've done pretty well to absorb Kahn's loss so far," said Tandy.
"You will always miss someone like Kahn because he's an unbelievable player. I spoke to him when he left and he departed on a good note. He loved the environment, but you have to move on quickly in sport.
"Tito has had an extended run in the team and taken his chance.
"Our attacking game is getting better every week and Tito is a large part to do with that."
Tandy added ahead of the visit to Connacht: "We also have young Tom Habberfield and Rhys Webb on the way back, too. We feel we have three outstanding nines to be competitive in all competitions."
The Ospreys are one of only two undefeated sides in the Pro12 after three rounds.
But they have not beaten an Irish province in their last four fixtures, a sequence which includes two draws, with all games being played away from home.