Allen Clarke: Ospreys head coach says region experiencing a 'dark period'

Allen Clarke
Allen Clarke arrived at Ospreys as forwards coach from Ulster in 2017

Ospreys coach Allen Clarke says he is going through the toughest period of his career after watching his side suffer five defeats in six games.

Southern Kings won their first ever Pro14 away game in Swansea on Saturday to leave the Swansea region struggling in sixth place in Conference A.

Ospreys host Munster on Saturday in the Champions Cup with holders Saracens and Racing 92 also in their group.

"This is a dark period for us," said Clarke.

"We have to ride it and I believe we will come out the right side of it."

Ospreys have lost successive games at home against Connacht and Southern Kings with their only league win coming against Benetton.

"It is probably the toughest period for me and a real test of character and resilience," said Clarke

"Not just for me but for everybody. Considering what we are going through there is a pragmatism and realism of where we are and what we need to do to improve.

"That's important. There is no point just saying it's not good enough, you have to give people solutions and something to grab onto.

"Something they can aspire to and targets they can achieve so we can dig ourselves out of this."

Ospreys hope to have Wales prop Nicky Smith and scrum-half Aled Davies back for the opening game of the Champions Cup this weekend.

Clarke says it would be a while before they see the rest of the World Cup contingent of Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Adam Beard, Owen Watkin and George North.

Their absence has been exacerbated by season-ending injuries to Cory Allen and Keelan Giles, while Wales internationals Gareth Anscombe, James King, Dan Evans and Luke Morgan are also currently on the injury list.

Hooker Sam Parry will also have a scan on a leg injury after being carried off against Southern Kings.

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Pro14 highlights: Ospreys 14-16 Southern Kings

"It is going to be some time before our players drip back, both internationals and those on the injury list," said Clarke.

"Many of them injured are mid to long term. Our playing group has been the same for some time now. It is a very modest squad to select from.

"The injury list is greater than the player availability list.

"We knew the beginning of the season would be tough.

"What we didn't legislate for were the number of injuries we've picked up and we've had five front liners out of our back line since game two which has been hugely challenging.

"It's a perfect storm in terms of where we are."

Clarke said he did not believe there is a problem with the coaching team.

"It's not for me to defend myself, but I'll defend the other coaches," he said.

"There's a high level of excellence and they challenge players, support them and make them better. That's what you want from your coaches."