Ospreys coach Sean Holley is warning his players to avoid complacency when they return to Heineken Cup action at the weekend.
Italian Super 10 leaders Benetton Treviso arrive at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday for the first of a double header that could shape the rest of the Ospreys season. Although the region will be firm favourites going into the game, Holley is expecting a tough test against a side that has lost just once in their domestic competition this season.
Although yet to pick up a point in their current Heineken Cup campaign, the Italians have a proud record of picking up shock results in the competition. Their best performance came in the
2004/05 season when they just missed out on progressing to the knock out stages after recording a win against Bath and doing the double over Bourgoin. Last December a last minute Marius Goosen penalty secured a Treviso win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
The 13 times Italian champions have also secured Heineken Cup victories against the likes of Wasps, Harlequins and Glasgow in previous seasons, leaving Holley well aware of the task the Ospreys face. He said:
"A lot of people write off the Italian sides but you can't afford to take them lightly, we've got no doubts whatsoever about the challenge they will present us over the next two fixtures. They pushed Perpignan all the way in their opening fixture, preventing them from picking up a bonus point, so we realise that we will have to be at the top of our game. We had two tough games against Calvisano two seasons ago and are fully expecting a similar challenge from Treviso.
"It should be an interesting game for supporters, we've not played them before so for many of them it will be a little bit of the unknown, but we've studied them closely and are looking forward to the challenge. They look to play an expansive style which should make for an entertaining match and a great European occasion, but we will have to remain focused on what we have to do, which first and foremost is to secure a win."
With a lengthy injury list that has robbed the Ospreys coaching team of a number of options ahead of the match, Holley will welcome back the nine Welsh internationals who featured in Saturday's memorable win over Australia at the Millennium Stadium. Holley added:
"We are delighted to have our international contingent back this week after they played a significant part in a great win. No doubt confidence will be high amongst them, and they will increase the options available to us over the next couple of weeks. Even though we have been struck by a number of unfortunate, unavoidable injuries, the whole camp is in fine spirits and is looking forward to getting back into European action. Everyone is knuckling down and working hard, and we are determined to put in a big performance for our fans this Saturday.
"We are well placed in all three competitions that we are competing in, and going into this double header we are currently one point better than we were at the same stage last season, so we have every reason to be confident. We know exactly what we need to achieve over the next two games to ensure that we stay in contention going into the final round of fixtures, in Perpignan and then at home to Leicester Tigers.
"Heineken Cup games are always special occasions, there is always a buzz of anticipation about the camp during the build-up, and on match day itself at the Liberty Stadium. We've been involved in some great occasions in this competition and at home, wins against the likes of Sale, Gloucester and Stade Francais stand out. Hopefully, we can give supporters another match to remember on Saturday."
Tickets for the game are now on sale at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com or via the Ticket Hotline on 08700 400 004.