Ospreys players and coaching staff have commented on today's Heineken Cup draw, which saw the region placed in Pool 3 with Leicester Tigers, Perpignan and Benetton Treviso.
Alun-wyn Jones commented:
"It's certainly an interesting group, I think we'll all be looking forward to testing ourselves against two sides with a proven Heineken Cup pedigree. Although we'll be expected to beat Treviso it's case of having to make sure we are professional and do the job properly, as often it's the case that qualification is won and lost in the games against the Italian sides.
"We know all about Leicester having played them in each of the last three seasons. Like us they will go into the competition with a new coach so while their players will be up for it after we beat them at Twickenham, the matches against them will have a different complexion to them, a bit of the unknown. Perpignan have gone all the way to the final before and reached the knockout stages last season so we know that we'll have to be on the top of our game if we are to win the group, but I think its definitely achievable. We got through to the quarter finals as best runners-up last season when I think it was there for us to win the group, so I can't see why we can't go one better this time around. If we do that, we have to be confident of improving on last year's showing and progressing past the quarter finals for the first time."
Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys said:
"To draw Leicester Tigers, Perpignan and Benetton Treviso in the same group means that we're going to be pushed hard if we are going to progress this season. Each one of them can claim to be one of the best, if not the best, in their own countries, that is the size of the task that we face. Saying that, we fully understand that to win any tournament you have to play and beat the best, so we are looking forward to the challenge already, you can't fail to be excited by the prospect of some fantastic rugby matches in the autumn."
Lee Byrne said:
"It's a tough draw but you wouldn't expect it to be any different, there are no easy games in this competition. It is the best tournament in the world, supporters and players love it because the standards are so high. We've played Leicester a few times over the last few years and they matches have generally been close, I'm sure they'll be up for revenge after we beat them in the EDF Energy Cup Final in April. Perpignan will be tough, just as any French side are, but having been successful in Bourgoin this year we now know what it takes to win in France. We can't take Treviso for granted either, as the leading Italian side they are improving year on year so we have to be wary of an upset.
"It doesn't matter what sides you get drawn against in the pool stages, when you enter a competition that you have ambitions of winning you know that sooner or later you are going to be tested and are going to have to beat the best sides if you are going to win the thing."
Mike Phillips added:
"It's a draw that will get people excited. Leicester are one of the best sides in Europe, they have been for years now and will definitely be looking to improve on their performance in this competition last year, as well as wanting to get one over on us after we beat them at Twickenham. Perpignan have been to the final, they did well last season and will prove tough opposition no doubt.
Treviso will offer a different type of challenge, Italian rugby is improving and they certainly won't be a pushover.
"To win any cup you have to beat whoever the draw throws up, and you inevitably have to face tough opposition along the way, so you can't grumble about the draw, you have to get on with the job. It's going to be tough but I think that our squad is good enough to cope."