WALES ACE WEBB FOR TOULON?

Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Or­ders Rugby cor­re­spon­dent mark.or­ders@waleson­line.co.uk

TOULON have be­come the lat­est club to be linked with a move for Wales and Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb.

The French aris­to­crats join Sara­cens as a ru­moured des­ti­na­tion for the Wales and Lions star, whose na­tional dual con­tract with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Ospreys ex­pires at the end of the sea­son.

Re­ports in the French me­dia claim Webb’s pre­ferred op­tion is to join Toulon, but the three-times Cham­pi­ons Cup win­ners also have an in­ter­est in Bordeaux-Be­gles scrum-half Yann Les­gour­gues. But there is lit­tle doubt Webb will be af­forded his pick of some of Euro­pean rugby’s big­gest hit­ters when he looks to forge a ca­reer away from the Ospreys next term.

“It is too early to be dis­cussing these mat­ters,” said Webb’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Der­wyn Jones.

“These things aren’t on Rhys’ radar at this point. His sole fo­cus is to play as well as he can for the Ospreys and, if se­lected, for Wales in the com­ing months.

“Nor is it a ques­tion of any­one be­ing touted around.

“Every club in Europe is aware of which play­ers are com­ing out of con­tract and so who will po­ten­tially be avail­able next sum­mer.

“There is also so much for the in­di­vid­ual player to con­sider.

“It’s not as sim­ple as say­ing: ‘France is a sunny place, the food is nice, the money is good – I’ll go there’. A player has to make a de­tailed as­sess­ment of what’s best for him­self, his fam­ily and also take into ac­count where he is in his ca­reer and ex­actly what are the ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of mak­ing a move or stay­ing put.”

Webb has had a num­ber of in­juries through­out his ca­reer, but has reached a point where his stock may never be higher.

But, hav­ing made well over 100 ap­pear­ances for the Ospreys since his de­but 10 years ago, it will still be a big wrench for Webb to leave.

THE Ospreys have turned to the craft of James Hook as they look to get their Guin­ness PRO14 show back on the road against Mun­ster at the Lib­erty this af­ter­noon.

The 81-cap Wales in­ter­na­tional made a mark af­ter com­ing off the bench in the 31-10 loss to Glas­gow War­riors last time out.

He re­places Kieran Fono­tia in mid­field, with Cory Allen mov­ing to out­side cen­tre and Hook fea­tur­ing at No. 12 where his ex­pe­ri­ence can help with the de­ci­sion­mak­ing and his cre­ativ­ity can boost the Ospreys in an area where they were a shade lack­ing in Scot­land.

The other change sees Dan Baker come in at No. 8.

Olly Crack­nell, who had a big game against Glas­gow, misses out af­ter pick­ing up a head knock at Scot­stoun.

James King switches back to blind­side flank in a back row com­pleted by Justin Tipuric, who stays as cap­tain.

There is also a place on the bench for Dan Ly­di­ate as he starts his come­back af­ter 10 months out with a knee in­jury.

Dan Big­gar also makes a sur­prise ap­pear­ance among the re­place­ments, hav­ing ev­i­dently been brought back up to speed af­ter his ex­er­tions with the Lions.

The Ospreys were not wildly un­happy with their ef­fort against the War­riors, be­liev­ing they matched one of their key ri­vals in Con­fer­ence A for long pe­ri­ods.

“Last week in Glas­gow we were cer­tainly able to match an­other good side phys­i­cally in a con­test that was a real arm wres­tle for long pe­ri­ods,” said head coach Steve Tandy.

“We set our­selves up well, but we let our­selves down with that lack of ac­cu­racy at key mo­ments that meant we lacked the clin­i­cal edge that would have given the score­board a dif­fer­ent look.

“Back in front of our own sup­port­ers this week­end it’s im­por­tant that there’s a pos­i­tive re­ac­tion and we’ve all got a big part to play in that, to en­sure we can start to cre­ate some real mo­men­tum for two weeks on the road be­fore we come back here to face the Scar­lets next month.”

But Mun­ster will pose a chal­lenge. They are un­beaten in the league af­ter the open­ing fort­night hav­ing banked two bonus-point vic­to­ries.

But Tandy’s team have trained well and with the likes of Big­gar and Ly­di­ate on a bench that in­cludes six in­ter­na­tion­als they are slowly re­turn­ing to strength.

“Mun­ster at the Lib­erty Sta­dium is al­ways a huge oc­ca­sion and this week will be no dif­fer­ent,” said Tandy.

“We are re­ally look­ing for­ward to Satur­day af­ter­noon and test­ing our­selves against a team that have started re­ally well with back to back home wins in the first two rounds.

“We know what to ex­pect from Mun­ster, in that they’ll be phys­i­cal, well or­gan­ised and clin­i­cal, and we have to match that.”

Mun­ster wel­come back Tyler Bleyen­daal at fly-half, with the New Zealan­der handed the cap­taincy. Ospreys: D Evans; K Giles, C Allen, J Hook, J Hassler; S Davies, T Hab­ber­field; P James, S Parry, M Fia, B Davies, L Ash­ley, J King, D Baker, J Tipuric (capt). Reps: S Bald­win, N Smith, R Jones, A Beard, D Ly­di­ate, M Aubrey, D Big­gar, K Fono­tia. Mun­ster: A Con­way: D Sweet­nam, C Far­rell, J Taute, A Woot­ton; T Bleyen­daal (capt), D Wil­liams; L O’Con­nor, R Mar­shall, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Hol­land, S O’Con­nor, T O’Don­nell, J O’Donoghue. Reps: N Scan­nell, J Cronin, J Ryan, F Wy­cher­ley, R Copeland, J Hart, R Scan­nell, S Zebo. Ref­eree: Stu­art Berry (SA).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.