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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Season preview: Ospreys
By Sean Davies

Neath and Swansea proved two of the most obdurate forces to wed together, but since the marriage was arranged there has been a remarkable dearth of discord from west Glamorgan.

OSPREYS PREDICTIONS
Scott Gibbs and Shane Williams at the Ospreys launch
Celtic League: 6th
Celtic Cup: 1st round exit
Heineken Cup: 1st round exit
If the clubs seem able to work together, some fans have been inclined to think that the harmony has been achieved by Swansea rolling over and acquiescing to all Neath's demands, but the squabbles will soon be put aside if success can be found on the pitch.

On paper, the Ospreys look to have one of the strongest of the regional squads.

The loss of abrasive back-row man Hywel Jenkins for disciplinary reasons was a blow, and Mark Taylor's decision to ally himself with the Scarlets leaves a creative void in midfield.

Aside from the front five, though, the Ospreys should be little affected by World Cup calls.

Rob Sweeney
One to watch: Rob Sweeney
Skipper Scott Gibbs - who has been a favourite at both the Gnoll and St Helen's - should command enough respect with players and fans to help the side to gel.

Lyn Jones will, as ever, coach with imagination and flair, and his love of the expansive game could benefit on the lush surface at St Helen's.

For all the positives, an unhappy time in the knockout competitions can be predicted for the team.

A first-round Celtic Cup exit at Leinster looks a banker, while Toulouse should prove too strong in their Heineken Cup group (second place would be realistic, but with Leeds and Edinburgh in pool two a best runners-up spot looks unlikely).

An inconsistent season of building and consolidation would seem to be in store for the Ospreys, but there is genuine hope for a successful future.


Full-backs: Gareth Swales, Adrian Durston, Matthew Jones
Three-quarters: Scott Gibbs, Gareth Morris, Matthew Brayley, James Storey, Dave Tiueti, Elvis Seveali'i (from Bath)
Fly-halves: Gavin Henson, Shaun Connor, Rob Sweeney
Scrum-halves: Shane Williams, Andy Williams (from Bath), Ricky Richards
Props: Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Paul James, Andrew Millward, Cai Griffiths
Hookers: Barry Williams, Huw Bennett, Chris Wells
Locks: Gareth Llewellyn, Jon Thomas, Andy Newman, Lyndon Bateman, Luke Tait
Back rows: Steve Tandy, Nathan Bonner-Evans, James Bater, Richard Pugh, Gavin Thomas (from Bath)

Transfer stories
Captain: Scott Gibbs
Coach: Lyn Jones
Assistant coach: Sean Holley
Conditioning coach: Huw Bevan
Team colours: Black and white
Premier League team coaches: Tony Clement (Swansea), Rowland Phillips (Neath)
Academy coach: Garin Jenkins
Performance analyst: Peter Hall
Community development manager: John Schropfer
Senior development officer: Dai Arthur
Grounds: St Helen's and the Gnoll




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SEE ALSO
Heineken Cup 2003/4
26 Nov 02  |  European Club
Welsh rugby's new dawn
31 Aug 03  |  Welsh



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