Ospreys after Perpignan scalp
January 16, 2009
Ospreys skipper Ryan Jones will lead his side into a crucial showdown with Perpignan on Saturday © Getty Images
The Ospreys travel to face Perpignan in the Heineken Cup on Saturday looking to register the win that eluded Leicester Tigers.
Head Coach Sean Holley has named a strong side, with Miek Phillips partnering James Hook at halfback and Gavin Henson returning at inside-centre. Andrew Biship shifts to 13 sfter Sonny Parker fractured a rib against Munster while Lee Byrne starts at fullback with Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe on the wings.
Ryan Jones leads the side from the blindside, with Marty Holah and Filo Tiatia completing a formidable back-row.
"Saturday's game is a huge fixture that will provide a real test of physical and mental strength, but it's an exciting challenge that we are all looking forward to," said Holley. "You can't fail to be excited about the prospect of challenging one of France's leading sides on their own patch, in front of a big crowd and in an electric atmosphere. Our players are the type who thrive on competing against the best in the world in front of big, passionate crowds and Perpignan certainly fit the bill.
"Our recent matches against the Blues and Munster were both hugely physical, and as such, have proved to be excellent preparation for this fixture. We welcome back six seasoned internationals into the starting 15, along with Jamie Nutbrown on the bench, whilst Tom Smith deservedly takes a place in the 22 after a fine performance last weekend.
"After reviewing the Munster match we have identified clear areas for improvement, and if we can hit the right performance marks in terms of what we've been working hard on this week then we will present a serious challenge to Perpignan."
Perpignan are without Dan Carter after the All Black fly-half aggravated an Achilles tendon, meaning that Steve Meyer partners Scotland international Chris Cusiter at half-back. Maxime Mermoz and David Marty start in the centre, while Henry Tuilagi will be looking to add his considerable weight to their back-row effort alongside Damien Chouly and Gregory Le Corvec.
Perpignan: Perpignan: P Burger, C Manas, D Marty, M Mermoz, J Candelon, S Meyer, C Cusiter, K Pulu, G Guirado, N Mas [capt], R Alvarez Kairelis, O Olibeau, G Le Corvec, D Chouly, H Tuilagi.
Replacements: C Geli, S Chobet, G Vilaceca, J Perez, G Hume, N Durand, J Porical
Ospreys: Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Bishop, Gavin Henson, Shane Williams, James Hook, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun-wyn Jones, Ryan Jones (capt), Marty Holah, Filo Tiatia
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Cai Griffiths, Lyndon Bateman, Tom Smith, Jamie Nutbrown, Dan Biggar, Jonny Vaughton
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9