Preview: Ospreys v Aironi

Date published: February 16 2012

The Ospreys will be looking to make a winning start under their new coaching staff when they host Aironi at Liberty Stadium on Friday.

The Ospreys will be looking to make a winning start under their new coaching staff when they host Aironi in the Pro12 at Liberty Stadium on Friday.

Steve Tandy takes charge of his first game as Head Coach after the mid-week departure of Sean Holley and Scott Johnson.

The Welsh side is second in the table at the moment while Aironi are seeking their first victory in Wales and well as their first win on the road this season.

There are 16 Ospreys players absent on international duty with Wales, Ireland, Wales U20, and Scotland U20.

“We had a good win up in Edinburgh last weekend, showing great character to tough it out, but it won't mean anything if we don't back it up with a good performance this Friday,” said Tandy.

“We won't read anything into Aironi's league position, they're a well coached, dangerous team capable of hurting the opposition so we know we're going to have to play well as a team. With Ulster away next weekend, it's important that we build some momentum, some form, and start to get some real confidence.

“We're all looking forward to focusing on the rugby again, and hopefully starting a new era for Ospreys Rugby on a winning note.”

Will Taylor will make his PRO12 debut if he comes off the bench

Meanwhile, Aironi coach Rowland Phillips has been forced to make a number of changes due to injury (Trevisan, Williams, Buso, Ongaro, Orquera, Sole and Robertson are out) and because of Italy's request to rest the Internationals.

Of the ten Aironi players in the Italy squad, only Giulio Toniolatti, Simone Favaro and Mauro Bergamasco are cleared to play Friday.

One of the most interesting bits of team news is that Favaro starts at number eight. Joshua Furno returns from injury and retakes his place in the second row alongside Carlo Del Fava. Hooker Roberto Santamaria will skipper the team.

Amongst the replacements, there is a first call up for Antonio Denti, a 21-year-old hooker born and raised in Viadana.

Form: Ospreys only defeat in their last seven home matches in all competitions was 13-16 to Saracens in the European Cup on 16 December, whilst the region's only home loss in the tournament since October 2010 was 20-22 to Munster on 23 April 2011. Aironi's home game with Munster fell foul of the snowy weather in Italy last Sunday. Aironi have won two of their last three matches in the RaboDirect PRO12, at home to Treviso and Connacht. The Italians' have yet to gain a victory over a Welsh opponent. Ospreys won the previous two meetings with Aironi last season.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tom Smith, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Joe Rees, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Goode, 20 George Stowers, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Tom Isaacs.

Aironi: 15 Alberto Benettin, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Gilberto Pavan, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Simone Favaro, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Carlo Del Fava, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Lorenzo Romano, 2 Roberto Santamaria (cap), 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Antonio Denti, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Riccardo Pavan, 23 Matteo Pratichetti.

Date: Friday, February 16
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19.30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (IRFU)