Oli Goss is ready to fight for his place in a Leeds Carnegie squad he descibes as the ‘most focused environment’ he has ever been involved in.
The versatile back who turned 26 last weekend is expecting the competition for a starting berth to increase in the second half of the season as Carnegie bid for promotion from the Greene King IPA Championship.
A centre when he arrived at the club 18 months ago from Doncaster, Goss has primarily played on the wing this season but has yet to cross the tryline in any of his 11 appearances.
With tries being produced from elsewhere, and centre Rob Vickerman now at the club after quitting the England Sevens, Goss knows he has to knuckle down to keep in favour.
“There’s a lot of classy players in our backline,” he said. “You have to play to your strengths and what I offer is hard work all over the pitch. I can score the tries but I’m perhaps not as prolific as Doc (David Doherty) or Jonah Holmes.
“It’s a backline that’s functioning very well, so you have to keep working hard to get your chance to be involved.
“Throw in Rob Vickerman, an England Sevens star who brings great experience, and the competition cranks up another notch.
“It’s a level of competition I’ve never known before. And that’s a good thing because it’s pushing everybody on.”
As well as keeping Goss and company on their toes, that driven attitude has led to a level of focus Goss is finding inspirational.
It has led to the players focusing no more than one game ahead, rather than talking of a potential promotion push.
“It’s the most focused environment I’ve ever been involved in,” continued Goss.
“It’s a real hard-working, focused atmosphere.
“People are going about their jobs with an incredible drive.
“There’s not much talk about promotion or the play-offs or anything for that matter.
“Everyone’s focus is purely on being involved in the team for the next game.”
That next game comes tomorrow against Nottingham at Headingley Carnegie, a fixture in which Leeds are motivated by a double aim of maintaining their winning momentum in the Championship and atoning for an opening-day defeat to the East Midlanders.
“We owe them a bit for our performance on the opening day,” said Goss, of a team effort that fell well below the current standards the team is setting.
“We rather stumbled into the season and we’ve spoken about it this week, it’s a game where we want to right some wrongs.
“Particularly after the Bristol game we need to keep the momentum going, whether that be against Nottingham or whoever.
“When I was at Doncaster the Nottingham game was always a big game. You know what you’re going to get from them, they’re a tough team that have not changed that much at all in recent years.
“They’ve got a lot of Championship experience and just because they’re not up at the top as they usually are, doesn’t mean we’ll be taking them lightly.
Victory could see Leeds return to the top four and draw to within just one win of leaders London Welsh, who suffered defeat to surprise-package London Scottish last weekend.
“Scottish’s win over Welsh just shows the competitiveness of this league,” said Goss.
“It also shows what we have long mainatined – that Welsh are beatable.”