Off a hot start to their Pro12 campaign, the Ospreys head into Europe full of confidence as they face Treviso at Liberty Stadium.
Hot off an unbeaten start to their Pro12 campaign, the Ospreys head into Europe full of confidence as they face Treviso at Liberty Stadium.
The Welsh side are the only unbeaten team in Europe’s top three leagues having won five from five and they will be hot favourites to make it six in a row against the bottom club in the Pro12, but Europe has not been kind to the Welsh region in recent years. After making the Heineken Cup quarter-final for three consecutive seasons they have not been able to get passed the pool stages since 2011.
“This is the start of a new challenge for us as a group,” said Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy.
“We’ve had a good run of results in the PRO12 but that doesn’t count for anything on Sunday. We’ll go into the game level on points with Treviso, and knowing that we’ll be trailing either Northampton or Racing Metro after they play Saturday. That’s the reality of what this weekend is about.
“We haven’t been focusing on results over the last six weeks, we’ve been consistent since pre-season in that we are concentrating on the performance and ensuring that we get the right balance in the week leading up to the game and then on matchday. We are pursuing excellence in everything we do. We haven’t always achieved that this season, and there’ll be times we fall well short with such a young group, but that has to be the target.
“We are proud of the start we’ve had in the PRO12 but aren’t getting carried away with ourselves. We know that there are some tough tests ahead over the coming weeks and months and we’ll start to find out a lot more about the players in this group when we have our backs to the wall. That will happen, and it’s important that we accept and prepare for it. There’ll be ups and downs, but what we can guarantee is that we will keep focused and keep doing the right thing.”
Ospreys number eight Dan Baker is hoping to prove the region’s doubters wrong when the European Rugby Champions Cup gets under way this weekend.
“I admit, when I saw the draw my jaw did drop a little bit,” said Baker.
“But all we can do is get on with it. There is no easy group in that competition, it is not as though there is another group you look at and think you would rather have been in there.
“People will look at us up against Northampton, the English champions, and a very strong Racing Metro side and they will write us off. They can think we are underdogs and we will be happy with that. It means we have nothing to be afraid of and nothing to lose.”
Tandy has named an unchanged team following last week’s 26-15 victory over Cardiff Blues.
For Treviso, Angelo Esposito comes in on the wing with Michele Campagnaro dropping out.
Joe Carlisle and Alberto Lucchese form a new half-back pairing while Francesco Minto replaces Mat Luamanu at number eight.
Antonio Pavanello returns to skipper the side from the second row while Albert Anae is added at hooker.
Ospreys: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 James King, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Justin Tipuric, 22 Martin Roberts, 23 Sam Davies
Benetton Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Enrico Bacchin, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Alberto Lucchese, 8 Francesco Minto 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Tomas Vallejos, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Albert Alfred Anae, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Romulo Acosta, 18 Salesi Manu, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Meyer Swanepoel, 21 Marco Barbini, 22 Michele Campagnaro, 23 Edoardo Gori
Date: Sunday, October 19
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kickoff: 13:00 local
Referee: Pascal Gauz