Hanno Dirksen says the players are looking forward to heading home to the Liberty Stadium this weekend after picking up two festive derby wins on the road.
The winger played a big part in the victories over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park pre-Christmas and at Parc y Scarlets on Boxing Day, and is hoping to get the nod for the second leg of the Domino’s Derby Series against the Scarlets on Friday night, which kicks off at 7.15pm.
Looking forward to the return game against our rivals from across the Loughor Bridge, Dirksen backed the Ospreys fans – who made their presence known at both away games – to create a special atmosphere at the region’s home.
“There was an awesome atmosphere at Llanelli, and to have them again on Friday night so soon is even better” he said.
“Hopefully there will be another big crowd and another awesome atmosphere. It’ll be amazing to have a crowd like we’ve seen in the two away games, and being our fans at home will make it even better.”
Dirksen is fast closing in on a half-century of regional appearances, with the Boxing Day clash being his 48th outing in an Ospreys jersey. While his physical, all action style has made him a fans favourite in Ospreylia, he admits that he has come to be seen as something of a pantomime villain in the Welsh derby games, roundly booed by opposition fans in both Cardiff and Llanelli recently.
He laughed off the tag of ‘public enemy number one’, saying”
“Any noise in the background makes you play that little bit more. It doesn’t matter if it’s for you or against you, you use it for your advantage, so I don’t really care about the reaction I get. I enjoy it. I just need the Newport fans to go now and then everyone hates me!
“When there’s a big crowd there you just want to entertain them. That’s what it’s all about. I want to give the crowd a good show. We worked really hard on the day and got the win both times, which is awesome. What we need to do now is work on improving our performance to get to the level expected of the Ospreys.”
Since scoring his first Ospreys try on his first start, as an 18-year old student featuring in the LV= Cup against Leeds at the Liberty Stadium almost four years ago, Dirksen has established himself as a quality finisher, with 14 tries to date for the region. He thought he’d added his 15th on Boxing Day only for his touchdown to be ruled out by the TMO. Although his view is, understandably, that it was a try, he feels that the final outcome was more satisfactory for the team.
“At the time, and then looking at the screen about 20 times, everyone thought it was a try” he said.
“But, I think Ian’s try was an easier kick for Dan, was a better option, and he got it over. That gave us a little bit more of a lead which meant that they had to score a try to get something from the game, not just a kick.
“At the end of the game we had to defend for about five minutes. I thought the defence was awesome from the boys. They couldn’t go for a kick to win which meant they had to keep going for a try every time, despite having penalties, and we defended really well to keep them out. “
Dirksen is now six games back following a year out with a knee injury, and he insists that he is looking forward to the future now rather than looking back at his missed year. He explained:
“It’s a little bit hard to get back to normal after being out for 12 months. Anybody would feel a little bit rusty but I’ve tried to not to think about it like that. I just try to play like I did before I was injured last year, and try to focus on what I can achieve in the games coming up, not what has already happened.
“There’s going to be some sore bodies in both groups after the Boxing Day game but there’s eight days to recover which is nice. It’s the first time we’ve played them back-to-back which makes it a little bit different. No game is ever easy, especially a derby match, and we know that we have to be at our best and give 100 per cent in everything we do. Hopefully, if we raise our game we’ll get the four points and make sure we stay in the top four.”
Tickets for this game are available to purchase now at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665, with the New Year Double-Deal on tickets for this match and the Heineken Cup visit of Northampton Saints a week later costing just £30.
The Ticket Office/Hotline opening hours this week are as follows:
Mon 30th Dec 10am-6pm
Tues 31st Dec 10am-4pm
Weds 1st Jan 9am-4pm (Note that Swans v Man City kicks off 12.45pm)
Thurs 2nd Jan 10am-6pm
Fri 2rd Jan 10am-7.15pm (KO)
Please note that the online ticket service operates 24/7 allowing you to buy tickets when most convenient for you.
In addition, tickets can be purchased from the following Tesco stores in Ospreylia:
Tesco Extra Bridgend
Tesco Extra Fforestfach
Tesco Extra Llansamlet
Tesco Neath Abbey
Tesco Swansea Marina
For this game, you can also buy tickets from Tesco Extra Parc Trostre in Llanelli