Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, has told his players to 'enjoy what will be a real challenge and a great experience' after the Heineken Cup Pool 5 schedule was revealed earlier today.
The Ospreys will kick off their European schedule with a Saturday afternoon clash against twice runners-up Biarritz at the Liberty Stadium, and after a trip to Italy to play Treviso they then face a December double header against reigning Aviva Premiership champions Saracens, before rounding off their campaign with a home game against Treviso and what could be a crunch trip to the south of France on the final weekend in January.
Having taken his time to review the schedule, Johnson insisted that it couldn’t have worked out any better for the Ospreys.
“Who couldn’t be excited by this fixture list?” he said.
“It’s fantastic, a massive home game to kick-off with against a great side who we were involved in a great match with in the 2010 quarter-final, a year when they got to the final. What’s best about it is it is a Saturday afternoon, traditional rugby time, and there will be a big crowd here anticipating another cracker.
“Treviso will be another difficult test, and then in December, we’ve got the chance to go head to head with the best in England over two weekends. I know that our fans will be looking at that match-up in particular, and who can blame them? We’ll be aiming to ensure that by the time we get to the final two fixtures in January it will be all to play for.
“There are four teams in the pool that on the day can beat each other so we know that there will be plenty of twists and turns, but we'll go into it with confidence. I’ll be telling the boys to enjoy what will be a real challenge and a great experience, and the same goes for our fans. They need to make sure they really enjoy this competition, it’s going to be full of drama and a real rollercoaster. I know I’m going to enjoy it.”
The Ospreys have faced all three opponents previously in the Heineken Cup, having won two out of two against Treviso in the 2008/09 competition and going out at the quarter-final stage against Saracens the previous season (19-10) and Biarritz (29-28) in April 2010. However, Johnson insists that it won’t be about revenge this season:
“Not at all, we can’t look at it like that. It’s going to be about getting the right kind of performance, players understanding their roles and getting their duties right. First and foremost it’s about playing as a team, playing for each other, and if we do that, then the performances will follow.
“As a footy fan, it’s a great draw and I reckon there’ll be plenty of Ospreys fans excited about the coming season. We’ve got an excellent home record in this competition and we’ll want to protect that, and we’ve all got a part to play, coaches, players, management and fans. We’re in this together and hopefully, we’ll have some big crowds and wonderful atmospheres at the Liberty, which is what Heineken Cup rugby is all about.”
The three home Heineken Cup pool fixtures are covered by the Ospreys season-ticket, which is on sale now with Earlybird prices starting at £165 for Category C seats, less than £10 a game (Earlybird Deadline – 11th August). Kids go free in the Family Area, with up to four children allowed per paying adult. For more information click here