By David Parsons
The Ospreys have been dealt a cruel blow ahead of their massive west Wales derby with Scarlets on Sunday with skipper Justin Tipuric being ruled out of action for up to two months.
The 93-times capped triple British & Irish Lions tourist broke his thumb in the defeat to Dragons at Rodney Parade last weekend and will undergo surgery next week.
“We know that Welsh derbies can take their tool and the one against the Dragons certainly did. Justin broke his thumb and will be out for between 6-8 weeks,” said Ospreys head coach Toby Booth.
“That seems to be the minimum period for us at the moment. James Ratti also came off at Newport with a shoulder injury that looks like keeping him out of action for a few months as well.
“Our injury list was big enough before losing them, and we are now looking a little bit skinny in the back five. Lock Huw Sutton is out for months with a knee injury, as is Will Griffiths with a shoulder problem.
“Centre Dom Morris is another long-term injury victim with a high ankle problem, while Wales U20 centre Tom Florence is out with an HIA. It’s when injuries come in the same position that it becomes problematic, given the difficulties all the regions are having with numbers this season.”
— BBC ScrumV (@BBCScrumV) November 22, 2023
Better news for Booth and the Ospreys fans is that Wales outside half Owen Williams is back in full training and that international centre Kieran Williams is also fit again.
“I always like to keep the glass half full, and situations like these can become opportunities for other players to shine. We have good leaders in the side even without Tips.
“Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake have captained Wales, No 8 Morgan Morris has led the Ospreys this season and we’ve got Gareth Thomas and Sam Parry back in the front row.
“Tips is a significant leader within the team who we will be without for some time, but it’s a chance for others to step up and step forward.
“We have to learn how to live without him – we are all in this together and we have to support each other.” ”
— Ospreys (@ospreys) November 22, 2023
Having lost their first regional derby of the season last weekend, 20-05 against the Dragons, Booth’s boys will want to take revenge on a Scarlets team they have beaten in the last three meetings.
Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel held back some of his best players in Dublin against Leinster last weekend in order for them to prepare for the trip to the Swansea.Com Stadium on Sunday.
One of those was outside-half Ioan Lloyd, who could find himself in a head-to-head battle with Owen Williams just two months ahead of the Six Nations.
With his Scarlets teammate Sam Costelow ruled out until the New Year with hamstring and shoulder problems, Warren Gatland is bound to want to cast his eye over two other high-class players vying to fill the precious No. 10 jersey in the 2024 tournament.
As well as that, the fit-again Johnny Williams and Joe Roberts could find themselves in direct competition to another prospective Wales centre pairing in Keiran Williams and George North.
On the weekend I was in B’ham and came across Llanelli Scarlets new clubhouse just opened up in Birmingham, anything the Ospreys can do playing in England, the scarlets can do it better 😜 pic.twitter.com/uxdKW858al
— John Devereux (@DevereuxJohn13) November 22, 2023
Ryan Elias and Lake will lock horns at hooker in another fascinating match-up.
“We need to control the ball better than we did last week, otherwise we will find ourselves chasing shadows. They always want to be positive and they are very passionate,” added Booth.
“They have some key individuals you can be very influential on the game – at No.9 and with their ball carriers.
“We talked about the cards and our discipline last week, which cost us. We have talked about what we need to learn from that and how we need to move on quickly from that.
“This is a significant fixture, the boys look at it straight away when the fixture lists come out. They rested some players last week to prepare for this week, which is a compliment in itself.
“There is a lot on the line and it will be all about keeping your head.”
𝗢𝘀𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘆𝘀 𝘃 𝗦𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘀 – 𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝗪𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗗𝗲𝗿𝗯𝘆 🤠@thepaulwilliams has delved into the Wild West Derby between us and the Scarlets to see who is on the 'WANTED' list 👀
— Ospreys (@ospreys) November 22, 2023