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The Bad and the Ugly and not much Good leaves more Questions than Answers!

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Both Tips and Toby Booth are calling the end of the worst season in Ospreys history a "line in the sand." Suffering fans must hope they mean it and will be supported financially by the shareholders to help them achieve it.

It was a pretty shambolic effort. The execution of the basics was totally absent. The Cardiff Blues played as if they really wanted it, and totally outpaced our lumbering slow players, many of whom looked like they were either running in treacle or had been out on the kebabs the night before. To compound matters the brilliant Rhys Webb, of last week, seemed to have been replaced by a look-a-like who was being introduced to the game for the first time.

The trouble with terms like "line in the sand" is that they are only sound-bites, unless you are prepared to make changes to the structure of the squad and that requires investment, judgement, and honesty. Hopefully these two games have given Booth and James an idea of what they need to adjust for next season. They have only been in situ to observe the problems for eight weeks. It is too early to judge them as these two games are really little more than a pre-season. Hopefully, they will have seen what many fans have seen for the past few years and start the correction process.

Let us start with the absentees from the two match-day 23's. Why were they absent? Were they injured? Were they late coming to conditioning? Were they considered not good enough? Were they held out until next season to give injuries time to heal? Were we operating on a limited squad to ensure there was not a rash of injuries that could de-rail next season? Or are some players not prepared to accept a wage cut and looking elsewhere? We know Anscombe and Price are likely to be out for some time but what of the other absentees? What were the reasons for us not seeing Dirksen, Allen, Scott Williams, Giles, Cai Evans, Venter, Harri Morgan, Fia, Rhys Davies, King, Lydiate, Sam Cross and Volpi? Communication on this issue has been disappointing to say the least. As has the radio silence over the departure of Carl Hogg, who at least had built a driving line out and taught us how to defend the maul. Something that was sadly lacking over the last two matches. Is the totally inexperienced Duncan Jones seriously seen as a like for like replacement for the experienced Hogg? Will a forwards’ coach be brought in for the new season? Are we going to do anything about our defence? Is a consultancy role for somebody like Clive Griffiths worth considering?

Assuming the above players are going to play a role, and that of our only truly elite players – AWJ, Tips, Webb, North, and Watkin are going to be heavily tied up with Team Wales for large parts of next season, and Anscombe appears gone for the entire season, how are we going to move forward?

Until we gain an understanding of the reasons behind the vast number of players who were, for whatever reason, not part of the last two match-day 23s, we do not know how many holes we have to fill. However, what is clear is the squad has too many slow, lumbering players who have neither the explosive power nor foot speed to be part of a competitive professional side. There has to be an infusion of decent athletes into the squad. No squad can have athletes across the park, but we are old and slow in many key areas particularly in the back five of the pack. We may well need to get younger and faster as part of the process.

It should be an interesting off season. Is the coaching team complete? Will we see an injection of capital and if so, where will it be utilised? On a new forwards’ coach, a scrum coach, or a defensive coach? How will Booth go about getting more pace and power into the squad? Let us hope the rebuild starts now.

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