Operation Osprey; Man of Vision: Lyn Jones Has Ambitions for the Ospreys beyond Winning League titlesPicture: GETTY IMAGES
Byline: PETER JACKSON
ANOTHER rare bird of prey will take flight in Swansea tomorrow when theOspreys spread their wings towards Twickenham and beyond.
Marty Holah, one of the All Blacks behind the 67-point series destruction ofthe Lions two years ago, landed yesterday.
He is a harbinger not so much of winter but of Lyn Jones' plan to unleash a newforce on Europe from the fertile fields of 'Ospreylia.' The 31-year-old NewZealander, due to be eased in off the bench during the Ospreys' home EDF EnergyCup tie against London Irish, has been imported to help cure the Celtic Leaguechampions' one deficiency.
'We've lots of ability but what perhaps we haven't had is the nous andexperience to win the tight matches,' said Jones. 'Last season was a hugesuccess in that we realised we can compete with the best in Europe. We realisewe are good enough and now we have to believe it so we go out expecting to win.
'That is where some English teams have been ahead of us in terms of greaterself-belief.
You look at the highest achievers in European rugbyWasps, Leicester, Toulouse, Munster. Their discipline factor is huge.
When the chips are down, those guys get their game spot-on, in knowing when notto give penalties away and how to run the clock down. When the game is nip andtuck moving into the last five minutes, the good teams don't panic. Theybelieve in themselves.
'If the clock is showing 79 minutes 59 seconds, they keep believing inthemselves. We are a young side, many still under 25, but we're catching up.'After their 47-point blitz at Worcester last week, the next five matches willtell Jones whether his team, featuring a fully rehabilitated Gavin Henson, hasany more catching up to do.
By the end of a sequence which includes a monster Heineken Cup tie atGloucester, the Ospreys will hope to be one match away from a Twickenham finaland off to a flier in Europe.
Painful experiences against high-performance opponents ought to have taughttheir younger players everything they need to know. Two years ago they allowedLeicester to rob them of a home win with a converted try in injury time. Lastseason they conceded a lastminute, long-range penalty to let Stade Francaisescape from Swansea with a draw which cost the Ospreys their place in the lasteight and put the Parisians through instead. …