As preparations continue for Friday night's RaboDirect PRO12 play-off at the Liberty Stadium, Richard Hibbard says that the Ospreys are expecting another tough evening against the Munstermen.
It’s the eighth time that the teams have clashed in the last two seasons, the Irish province winning four from five last season only for the Ospreys to win both games in the regular PRO12 campaign this time around. Whatever has gone on in the past, Hibbard says it’s important the team stays focussed on the job in hand.
“We’ve played Munster so many times over the last couple of years that both teams know exactly what the other is about and what it’s going to be all about” said the hooker.
“It’s a good rivalry that’s built up between the two teams now, like two old boxers slugging it out, and we can expect another battle on Friday night. They are a powerful, experienced team that knows how to win tights games as they’ve shown time and time again. They’ve got a winning culture and that’s what they’ll be coming here to do.
“We’ve got to worry about ourselves and our game, stick to what we want to do, everybody concentrate on our own jobs, know all our patterns and we’ll have a fighting chance.”
Both the Ospreys and Munster have qualified for the play-offs in each of the three years since they were introduced in 2009/10, the Ospreys claiming victory over Leinster in Dublin in the first ever final before Munster defeated the Ospreys in Thomond Park last year en route to winning the title against Leinster.
With the Ospreys going into Friday’s game on the back of a five game winning run, Hibbard says he’s hoping to see the Ospreys improve on last year’s semi-final showing:
“We want to do better than we did at this stage last season, that goes without saying. Having a home semi helps, being at home with our own fans rather than travelling out there, and our form going into the play-offs is definitely better than it was last year so we’ve got more momentum with us this time.
“We were a bit rough against Aironi, but it was a good physical hit-out for us against difficult opponents which was just what we needed ahead of this weekend. With some work this week to tidy up areas of the game I think we’re all looking forward to Friday night.
“These play-off games are one-offs, proper cup rugby. It’s all about what you do on the day and you know that it’s win or bust. If we don’t perform that’s it, season over, so you can’t think about what’s going to happen beyond that. All our focus is on Friday, on Munster and the semi-final. We don’t want to even think about anything else."