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Clarke eager to start carving out Ospreys' future

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Former Ulster coach Allen Clarke believes his Ospreys side can take the summer to reflect and come back stronger next year.

The Welsh region were beaten by Ulster on Sunday afternoon at Kingspan Stadium, consigning them to a year in the Challenge Cup.

Having had an horrendous start to the year, which led to the sacking of head coach Steve Tandy, things had been looking up under the stewardship of Clarke, who originally arrived in Swansea as forwards coach.

The side had won seven of their last 10 games before defeat last weekend, with Clarke keen to get back to it in just four weeks' time.

"I was delighted up until that to be honest," he said of his decision to move into Welsh rugby.

"I'm thoroughly looking forward to next season. I know it's not Champions Cup rugby but our initial focus will be the PRO14 and we want to ensure we're in the business end of that, and also build some momentum through that second level of European rugby.

"We saw that this year with Cardiff winning. There are some quality teams in that competition and we want to see how far we can go in that.

"But we are rebuilding and resetting our squad, there are changes in our squad - a number of players moving on, a number of players coming in - so for us there's a lot to look forward to.

"We'll get in to pre-season, be professional day on day, work towards that first game and build some momentum and confidence through winning and playing good rugby."

There was no hiding his disappointment at the season's finish though, especially after his side had dominated the opening exchanges only to ship four tries to Ulster in the 35-17 defeat.

"You have to tip your hat to Ulster in terms of the effort and the scoreline," he said. "But for us, at 7-0 we have to look at ourselves - as much as we respect how Ulster played, we're extremely disappointed with our inaccuracies and our discipline.

"We were in a really good space in the middle of that first half but we didn't kick on and it probably reflects our season, chasing things after an uncomfortable start.

"We've been on a bit of a roll and we feel hugely disappointed, we let ourselves down and we let our supporter base down.

"In terms of going forward you have to draw a line in the sand. I think everyone needs some reflection time, including myself, to ensure we come in on June 18 ready to go and put the building blocks in and build positively one day at a time leading into the season, and start the season well instead of chasing it at the back end."

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