Ospreys v Leinster in Heineken Cup: Time to come out fighting
THE Ospreys' coaches have challenged their "squad of winners" to come out fighting in the Heineken Cup encounter with Leinster on Saturday night and banish memories of the shock Pro12 defeat by Ulster.
Assistant coach Gruff Rees revealed how deeply last Friday's 18-12 home setback in front of more than 10,000 people was felt by the region's players and coaches.
And he expects that frustration to be channelled into producing a hugely improved home performance against the three-time European champions, with the real Ospreys showing up instead of the painfully out-of-sorts side that allowed a 12-0 lead to slip against Ulster.
"We're certainly hoping for a reaction," said Rees.
"Historically, we've always come back fighting after those sorts of performances.
"We have a squad of winners who don't accept what happened last Friday night, the way we sort of died in the last quarter. We'd hope that it can galvanise the group.
"As coaches we were sick to the gut in terms of the way the game drifted away from us.
"Myself, Steve and Chris have gnawed on that all over the weekend. You almost want to get back to work the next day to put things right, and the players are no different.
"The likes of Alun Wyn, Dan Biggar, Justin Tipuric and Adam Jones want to get on the field again and put in a performance after we let it go at the weekend. It was a crying shame given how we'd played in the previous four weeks."
There is a possibility the Ospreys could have Ryan Jones back for the must-win encounter against the reigning Pro12 champions.
The vastly experienced back rower had been due to return from a shoulder problem a fortnight ago, only to suffer a calf strain in training. But he appears on the mend and the Ospreys are hoping he will take a full part in training today.
"Ryan was semi-involved in the session yesterday," said Rees.
"He did a lot of the unit-based stuff and some of the skill-based drills. He didn't do the full run at the end because he was pulled away by the physios, but I'd hope for a full training day off him on Tuesday and, touch wood, we can get him in the mix for this weekend."
The availability of the 76-cap Jones would be a considerable tonic for the Ospreys heading into the northern hemisphere's most prestigious regional, club or provincial competition.
Jones has seen it all over the course of his lengthy career, and knows how quickly fortunes can swing for good or ill.
"It would be a boost, especially after last week," acknowledged Rees. "Ryan is a talisman who has that aura and a calmness about him — he comes in and does his job the right way and also affects other people the right way. Perhaps we didn't have that on the pitch last weekend. It was unusual for us, but Ryan can certainly add to the mix."