Ospreys coach Gruff Rees 'happy' with pre-season progress

Brendon Leonard, Gareth Delve and Kristian Phillips have arrived over the summer
Brendon Leonard, Gareth Delve and Kristian Phillips have arrived over the summer

Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees insists the squad will be ready for the new season despite the absence of several internationals on World Cup duty and having just one pre-season friendly.

The region will have 16 players at the World Cup, and their only warm-up will be away to Saracens on 27 August.

Their Pro12 season starts eight days later, away at Ulster.

"We do a lot of competition-based work in training - enough internal work to give us a knock about," said Rees.

"We're happy with our progress so far in what we've done on the rugby field and mixed our rugby conditioning to the right level. We've got a month to Saracens."

Ospreys at the World Cup
Wales: Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, Eli Walker, Aaron Jarvis, Paul James, Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Alun Wyn Jones, Rory Thornton, Dan Baker, James King, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric
Canada: Tyler Ardron, Jeff Hassler
Fiji: Josh Matavesi

Of all the four Welsh regions, Ospreys have the largest representation in Wales' World Cup training squad. The 13 players include Wales' first-choice half-back pairing Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar, as well as new recruit Paul James.

Tyler Ardron and Jeff Hassler are away with Canada, while Josh Matavesi is in Fiji's squad.

The onus, therefore, will be on the remaining Ospreys players to ensure a positive start to the Pro12 campaign before the internationals return after the end of the World Cup in October.

"Having 16 players away does give you a hit, but it's a positive hit, there's no doubt about that," said Rees.

Joe Bearman on a training exercise with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
As part of their pre-season preparation, the Ospreys players spent a day on a training exercise with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

"It makes you lighter so makes you think about the combinations and who's going to come through. And we'll manage the intensity and physicality as we approach Saracens."

Ospreys lost to Munster in the Pro12 semi-finals last season and failed to get out the the group stage in the European Champions Cup.

As well as recruiting prop James, they have also signed Wales forward Gareth Delve,ex-New Zealand scrum-half Brendon Leonard and wing Kristian Phillips.

"We can build on last season, we'd like to achieve more in Europe," added Rees. "We want to push on and the onus is on this group to make a mark early doors.

"We've got huge confidence in our conditioning department and how we integrate the rugby and conditioning into what we what.

"And the level of understating for the majority of this group is pretty high to be fair. There's a consistency in what we're doing from previous international blocks."

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