Skipper says whole region is looking forward to the visit of Leinster this Saturday
As the build-up to Saturday evening’s Heineken Cup opener against three-times champions Leinster at the Liberty Stadium continues, skipper Alun Wyn Jones says everybody in the camp is looking forward to a massive occasion.
The Ospreys kick-off their campaign against familiar foes, who having won three Heineken crowns in four years then ended last season with a PRO12 and Amlin Cup double, and off the back of a 10,000+ crowd at the Liberty last weekend, another big turnout is anticipated on Saturday.
“We had a good crowd against Ulster and we didn’t deliver on the day, it was disappointing for everybody” said Alun Wyn.
“It looks as though we are going to have another big crowd at the Liberty this weekend and it’s important that everybody delivers this time.
“It’s a big game for everybody, there’s no doubt about it, and we want to see a big crowd there to match it. The commercial guys in the office are reporting that it’s going well, and we are all looking forward to Saturday night and what should be a massive occasion for Ospreys Rugby.”
After facing up to Leinster, the Ospreys then travel to Franklin’s Gardens eight days later to take on last season’s beaten Aviva Premiership finalists Northampton Saints, with a December double header against Castres to follow. Jones was quick to play down talk of a ‘pool of death’, highlighting that whoever you play, the nature of the competition always means it’s going to provide a stern test of any team.
“It’s never going to be easy” he said.
“The very nature of the competition means that you have six difficult games and there is never any margin for error whoever you are pooled with. It’s not like a season long league where you can catch up if you get off to a slow start. Lose your opening games in this and that’s it. That’s what makes it such an unforgiving competition.
“’I’m repeating what I said a few weeks ago at the competition launch, which is that if you don’t do well in this over the seasons, as we haven’t in recent years, then you find yourself down the seedings, you just have to deal with it. We think we get it tough, but look at Castres who are French champions yet are the bottom seeds.
“It’s important that we start transferring some of our Rabo form into this competition, not just for the odd one or two games, but right through. That’s what we are trying to do. We have to get off to a good start and look to be positive in the first two games. We can’t look any further than that, we just want a decent start.
“The crowd we had against Ulster showed what kind of support we’ve got in the community and we want the fans to be with us right from the start of this journey in the Heineken Cup.”
Jones reiterated the importance of getting the campaign off to a positive start if the Ospreys are to progress in this year’s competition. He said:
“I think in some people’s eye we are potentially going to be a bit of a sideshow in the group, after what happened a couple of years ago in the final with Leinster and Northampton, and with Castres being French champions.
“We don’t want to be just making up the numbers, we want to be as near to the top of the pool as we can. We’ve got a home game first and hopefully we can use that to our advantage. It’s the first game of a six-match block that will test us and push all the way, but we need to stand up and deliver, on and off the field. That’s something we haven’t done in this competition in the past maybe, so it’s time we took our PRO12 form into Europe.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 6.00pm, are available to buy now from the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets or via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665.