Forwards Coach, Chris Gibbes, says that the Ospreys are up for the challenge as they prepare for a tough semi-final away to Munster next weekend.
It’s the third time that the two sides have clashed at this stage of the season and honours are even, Munster winning 18-11 at Thomond Park in 2011 before the Ospreys recorded a stunning 45-10 victory at the Liberty a year later.
Round 3 on Saturday promises to be a tough encounter but Gibbes insists that the Ospreys will travel with belief after going the last seven rounds of the regular season unbeaten and losing just five games in total across the campaign.
“It’s a huge challenge isn’t it?” said Gibbes.
“It’s a hard place to go and play, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. We’ll dust ourselves off after this, pick the learnings out of it as we do, and make sure we drive our performance to get the result we want.
“We’re not intimidated by going out there. We just want to make sure we get ourselves right and go and play for 80 minutes. That’s the big thing, these play-off games are only about the 80 minutes on the day. That’s what we’ve got to try and control.
“We know what’s coming. They’ve got a big, aggressive forward pack, they’re a good side that plays good rugby at a pretty formidable place. We know all that. What we’ve got to try to do is get ourselves prepared to cope with that, be able to play the conditions, and impose our game on them.
“There’s a reason we’re in the play-offs. We’re a good side, we’ve just got to make sure we prepare as well as we can and play for 80 minutes.”
The New Zealander reflected on the proverbial game of two halves at the Sportsground but insisted that the Ospreys could be pretty happy as they look back on how it finished:
“At half-time, going in 24-0 up against a good Connacht side we were pretty happy. There’s a few things that happened in that second half that compounded the pressure we were finding ourselves under and we didn’t cope with it as we wanted to.
“At the end of the day, we’re in the play-offs. We’ve got to travel away but there’s plenty of teams sitting at home doing nothing this weekend coming and we’re still alive. We’re pretty happy about that.”
Gibbes acknowledged that having built up such an imposing half-time lead that the failure to grab a fourth try could be considered an opportunity lost.
“I think you could look at it like that” he agreed.
“There were a few moments that we could have got that fourth try but we weren’t patient enough or a bit of skill let us down and we just weren’t able to impose ourselves on the second half like we did on the first. From a team perspective that’s what was most disappointing.
“That’s rugby. It’s tough out here. That wind plays a big part in the game, you could see how long they had us pinned back in our half for. You want to be playing at the right end of the park. But, you can’t just blame the wind. We want to be better than that and at times we weren’t. That’s why we’ve ended up where we have.”
Asked what he thought about the view from anyone who would write off his team’s chances next weekend, Gibbes’ answer was unequivocal:
“We don’t care about what anyone else says, we don’t give a s**t about that. We are just focused about us, and what we are about, as we have done all year. People have talked a whole lot of stuff about us but we’re clear about what we’ve got to do. It’s a tough ask but we’re up for the challenge.”