Holley tips Beck for international honours
January 13, 2012
Ospreys centre Ashley Beck crossed for two tries at the Liberty Stadium © Getty Images
Ospreys head coach Sean Holley has backed Ashley Beck to secure a place in Wales' Six Nations squad after the centre grabbed a brace in their six-try 44-17 Heineken Cup victory over Treviso at the Liberty Stadium.
Beck, 21, has been tipped as one to watch since making his debut as a 17-year-old, and he continued his outstanding recent form with another classy man-of-the-match performance in the Ospreys midfield as they kept alive their slim hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. The Academy product showed a combination of strength and intelligence in claiming his two tries and his subtle offloading and sharp footwork mark him out as arguably the form number 12 in Wales.
And Holley is in no doubt that Wales coach Warren Gatland, who is not exactly short of choice in midfield with Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams and Gavin Henson among his options, should be giving the young three-quarter a call sooner rather than later.
"It is someone else's decision, but Ashley is doing all he can to apply pressure," said Holley. "If you look at the 12s around the county he has to be up there, he showed a lot of class tonight. I have known Ashley for seven or eight years and he has grown in confidence and it shows. I hope he gets the call but I think it's only a matter of time."
Beck's brace helped the Ospreys on their way to securing a winning bonus point for the first time this season, with two penalty tries and further scores from Tommy Bowe and Kahn Fotuali'i completing the rout as Dan Biggar kicked 12 points with the boot. Treviso's two tries came courtesy of scores from Edoardo Gori and Gonzalo Padro but the Italian side were well beaten as they were suffocated up front and porous in defence.
While the win keeps the Ospreys in the hunt for qualification they are paying the price for results earlier in the campaign, when a draw in Treviso and back-to-back defeats against Saracens left them facing an uphill struggle to advance to the knockout stages. And despite tonight's success they will need to win in Biarritz in their final game and for other results to go their way to have any hope of progressing.
But Holley was pleased with the application his players had shown after a difficult recent period that has seen them lose four of their last five games, and director of coaching Scott Johnson announce he is to leave at the end of the season to take up a role with Scotland.
He said: "I have been pleased with how the players applied themselves all week. We tweaked things a bit to try and play with more movement and the guys responded positively to it and got their rewards. We could have got more tries over, but that's been the story of our season, we lacked clinical edge at the end but I am pleased we have got over the line as many times as we have and it was a deserved victory."
And Holley insists his side have not given up hope of reaching the last-eight, but has promised they will fully commit themselves to the Amlin Challenge Cup should they drop down into the second-tier competition at the end of the pool stage. "We are disappointed with the defeats we suffered against Saracens, we dominated the game at home and we should be better placed," he said.
"But we don't want to look back we want to look forward to the rest of the season, we talked abut putting pressure on the other sides and if we take as much as we can next week then who knows, stranger things have happened, but we want to finish strongly and see where we come out in mix.
"We will see what happens, we still believe there is a chance and while there is a chance you've got to believe. If we end up in the Amlin then we will go for it as there will be ranking points and silverware at stake, but our belief is still there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards