We know we will need to produce a consistent performance against a physical Zebre side, despite their position in the league, we expect to provide us with a tough physical test.
If we don’t turn up with the right mindset and ready to front up physically, we will find life this afternoon extremely uncomfortable.
Italian rugby teams are tough, hard and uncompromising. Even with red cards and yellow cards, as we saw against Ireland in the Six Nations, the way they dealt with adversity was there for all to see.
They never stopped, kept going and it was only in the last ten minutes of that game that the situation they found themselves in finally took its toll.
We know Zebre will be big and come with a big work ethic and that is the first thing we have to match that. Then, we need to control the game and attack intelligently.
You saw the return of Dan Lydiate from a long lay-off in our last game in Dublin and it was great to see him back and get right back into the thick of things.
We cannot underestimate how hard it is for a player to return after so long out but during his spell off the bench you saw a trademark Dan Lydiate performance.
You would have seen the recruitment of backrower Sam Moore a few weeks ago and his signing is all about potential and being strategic in our recruitment. We identified the need of a physical and abrasive backrower. Sam will give us that.
Rugby is a collision game and we all want players who win the collisions and that is an area we needed to add depth to. I knew Sam from his time in Sale and he is Welsh-qualified.
His recruitment fits our strategic approach to target players with the potential to become first team regulars at the Ospreys and then international players with Wales.
Mat Protheroe and Rhys Davies signed new contracts this week and are very much in that mould and an example of what we are looking to do at the Ospreys.
Mat lights up the pitch when he plays and every side in the modern game needs players who can beat defenders. He does that for us. Every side needs to be able to go through teams and around teams.
Rhys is the polar opposite and prides himself on being very abrasive and has incredible numbers from a work rate point of view. He knows he can be more efficient and it’s our job to show him how to do that.
The biggest accolade I can give him is that he has stood toe-to-toe with the international locks at the Ospreys and that shows he has the mindset and temperament we want.
Having beaten Edinburgh, the league leaders, at home and then come second to Leinster, the benchmark in the URC away from home, we know we need to find consistency of performance.
We are striving to be more consistent and Zebre offers another opportunity for us to achieve that. We know where we are and it’s important that we all appreciate that.
The team thank you for your continued support.