Head Coach Steve Tandy has revealed that he's hoping to tap into the feelgood factor at the Ospreys as he looks to path a course for his team into the RaboDirect PRO12 final at the end of the month.
A fourth successive win last weekend saw the Ospreys secure second spot, and with it a home semi-final on Friday 11th
May with a game to spare, and Tandy insists that getting the maths sorted out early is a huge bonus to the team’s preparations.
“Getting to the play-offs was the target when we took over so I’m pleased that we’ve managed to achieve that with a game to spare” he said.
“It’s a real boost for the business and I think there’s a real positive feel about the place at the moment which is great.
“As far as the team is concerned, securing the home semi with a game to spare is really important. It means we’ve got extra preparation time for the game. Yes, we don’t know who we are playing yet but it’s given us another two weeks to prep and get the team ready to go, rather than having to wait with a few different scenarios on the go. The uncertainty has been lifted and when we are planning for the next couple of weeks we know exactly where we are and what we are doing which has to be a huge benefit in terms of our preparations for 11th May.
“We’ve got Aironi first up though and we know we can’t take them lightly. While as coaches we have to plan further ahead, as far as the team is concerned it’s one game at a time and Aironi will present a real challenge. It could be their final game, which gives it that something extra and it will be an emotional evening there. They are a physical bunch and just looking at their results at home you can see what they are capable of. They’ll want to go out on a high.
“The players are aware that every game they are involved in they are representing the Ospreys at all times and will go out there looking to keep the momentum going with a good performance that will send us into the semi at the Liberty the following week in the right shape.”
The win over the Dragons last time out was witnessed by the highest crowd of the season, and Tandy is in no doubt that the big turnout provided his charges with a big lift. While the story of the night was all about Shane Williams and his last gap try, Tandy is quick to point out the importance of the late touchdown.
“It was superb at the stadium last time out, seeing so many supporters there” agreed Tandy.
“It really lifted the team and I’ve no doubt it helped us get the result in the end. It was a great occasion and the ending was very fitting for Shane, but you can’t lose sight of how important that try was for the team. It wasn’t just about Shane, we needed a fourth try for the bonus point and that bonus point in the end was enough to ensure that we have a home semi.
“That’s how important it was. It was a huge moment that has given that extra bit of breathing space and prep time that could be all important if we are going to be successful in the playoffs.
“To have 14,500 there was amazing but if we could go even better than that for the semi-final would be fantastic. It would give the boys such a boost to see so many people supporting them in a knockout game against Munster or Glasgow.”
As an Ospreys ‘original’ from the 2003/04 season, and a member of the ‘100 club’ at the region, Tandy was a key figure in the three previous league title successes and he urged the class of 2012 to go on and become the first team to claim four Celtic League titles:
“It will be special if we can achieve that, there’s no question about it. On and off the field there’s been a lot of change this year and with it some ups and downs, but ultimately we’ve put ourselves in a position where this group can make history this season.
“We’ve got to stay focussed, build on the momentum of the last four or five weeks and prepare properly. Whoever we play, Munster or Glasgow, we know they are both really good teams so we’ve got to make sure that we are up for it and in good shape if we want to get through to the final.”