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Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb hoping to fill void left by Kahn Fotuali'i

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 30, 2013

By DAFYDD PRITCHARD

CHANCE: Rhys Webb wants to keep the jersey

CHANCE: Rhys Webb wants to keep the jersey

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KAHN Fotuali'i will leave a huge void at the Ospreys when he joins Northampton in the summer, but there is one man at the Liberty who may afford himself a subtle smile when the Samoan departs.

Rhys Webb could do no wrong last season, emerging from Mike Phillips's shadow to establish himself as the Ospreys' first-choice scrum-half and winning his first Wales cap after a string of bright performances.

He kept hold of his regional starting place despite the signing of Fotuali'i from the Canterbury Crusaders and was hoping to do the same this term, but the Samoan's form has made that impossible.

Fotuali'i has been outstanding in this campaign, his brilliant displays prompting World Cup-winning former England centre Will Greenwood to describe him as "the world's best scrum-half by a street".

It was no surprise to see Europe's leading clubs form an orderly queue to prise the 30-year-old from the Ospreys' grasp and, although Northampton's gain is very much the Welsh region's painful loss, Fotuali'i's impending departure presents Webb with a chance to reclaim his place.

"There are positives for me," he said.

"Whether they bring someone else in, you don't know.

"It's a loss for the region because he's done so well for us, and it will be sad to see him go.

"But that's professional sport and you've got to drive on. I've got to take my opportunity with both hands."

Fotuali'i's rise to global prominence came at an inopportune time for Webb, who had taken full advantage of Phillips's 2011 departure from the Ospreys to wrestle control of the region's No. 9 jersey.

"It's hard," Webb added. "Last year I had the nod to play in the Pro12 final ahead of him (Fotuali'i) and got the reward for that by going to Australia with Wales.

"Once you've got a taste for it, you just want to keep going and going. I can't dwell on that too much and it's just about grabbing my opportunity now."

Webb will have another chance to prove his worth to the Ospreys in Sunday's LV= Cup clash against Harlequins at the Brewery Field.

Webb captained the side for the first time in last weekend's defeat to the Dragons, and he is eager to make the most of Fotuali'i's absence.

"It's frustrating because I'm 23 and all I want to do is play rugby," he said.

"Kahn is a world-class player so, at the moment, it's a case of me watching him and learning from him.

"Hopefully that won't be the case when I get my chance.

"I want to take it with both hands and keep the jersey from him."

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