Ospreys look to Williams for inspiration
May 9, 2012
Will Shane Williams make a mark in potentially his final run out for the Ospreys? © Getty Images
The second-placed Ospreys take on Munster in the semi-finals of the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Liberty Stadium on Friday evening.
Munster lifted the Celtic league title last year but have found it harder going this term with a quarter-final finish in the Amlin Challenge Cup and mixed form in the PRO12. And similar to the Ospreys, they have undergone changes behind the scenes with Rob Penney their new boss ahead of next season.
For the Ospreys it will be potentially their last chance to see Shane Williams in their colours while they will be looking to put down a marker that they are still one of the dominant forces in the PRO12 having last lifted the trophy in 2010.
Ospreys - Player to Watch: It has to be that man Shane Williams. He is back in the Ospreys XV in what could well be his final outing for the region.
Ospreys - Team News: Shane Williams is joined in the back three by Richard Fussell and Hanno Dirksen. Andrew Bishop and Ashley Beck are in the centres with Dan Biggar and Kahn Fotuali'i at half-back. Paul James, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones form the front-row with Alun Wyn Jones skippering the side at lock alongside Ian Evans. Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric and Joe Bearman form the back-row.
Munster - Player to Watch: Peter O'Mahony has had a remarkable season and with Ryan Jones and Justin Tipuric in the opposite back-row, he will have to be at his very best.
Munster - Team News: Felix Jones was originally pencilled in to start for Munster but was a late withdrawal so Johne Murphy has switched to fullback. Ivan Dineen comes in on the wing where he lines up alongside Simon Zebo. Keith Earls partners Lifeimi Mafi in the centres with Ian Keatley and Conor Murray at half-back. Wian du Preez, Mike Sherry and BJ Botha form the front-row while Donncha O'Callaghan partners Mick O'Driscoll in the second-row. Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O'Donnell and Peter O'Mahony form the back-row.
Key Battle: Munster's Ian Keatley goes up against the Ospreys' Dan Biggar at fly-half and in a match that could be decided by the boot, both will need to be firing come Friday evening.
Trivia: The Ospreys are the third-worst disciplined team in the PRO12 this season with 16 yellow cards to their name. Aironi and Treviso occupy the bottom two spots.
Stats: The Ospreys' Dan Biggar is leading the PRO12 points-scoring this season with 216 to his name.
"Munster will be coming to the Liberty with a winning mentality as they always do, wherever they play, whoever the opposition and whatever the game. They're a tough bunch, steely edged, with the knowhow and experience to win tight games and they won't be contemplating losing. You can guarantee that much." - Ospreys coach Steve Tandy.
"These games are so hard because we know each other so well. There are loads of Ireland and Welsh internationals on the field, who were Lions together so you know them so well, it can be difficult to break them down." - Munster's Keith Earls is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces
Prediction: Shane Williams' Ospreys seemed destined for one final hurrah in the star's career so expect them to book their place in the PRO12 final...just.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
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