RaboDirect Pro12: Steve Tandy wants Ospreys to secure play-off spot

RaboDirect Pro12: Steve Tandy is backing Ospreys to secure play-off spot ahead of their clash against Edinburgh

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy Photo: Ospreys

Steve Tandy is confident Ospreys can reach the Pro12 end of season play-offs despite the factors against them.

The south Wales region have won the Celtic League more times than any other club, but currently have an operating budget disadvantage over the union-run Irish provinces as Welsh rugby continues to suffer financially.

It’s looking increasingly difficult around the top tw

Steve Tandy

“We’ve got be confident even though we’ve got a young group,” Tandy said.

“We’ve got to come of age at some point and it’s something that we’re excited about. We know how big a challenge it is to get in the top four when you’ve got teams like Glasgow, Munster, Ulster and Leinster all sniffing around it, but we’re pretty excited about it with the group of players we’ve got and we feel we should be confident.

“It’s pretty tight around that fourth-third spot, so we need to get a victory [in Edinburgh on Friday] then have a good break and come back into Blues and Glasgow, which will be a really good encounter for us up in Glasgow, but we need some points on the board and hopefully we’ve got a pretty decent run-in with some home games; we need to be on the money on Friday night.”

Despite his confidence of reaching the top four come the end of the regular season, Tandy was more reserved when it came to finishing in the top two, with Munster and Leinster clear of the chasing pack.

“If we have a real good run you never say never, he said.

“It’s looking increasingly difficult around the top two. We’ve got to concentrate on Friday – we need to get a positive result up in Edinburgh and then our run-in could be really positive for us.”

The Ospreys face Edinburgh at Boroughmuir RFC’s Meggetland home after the fixture was switched from the Scottish side’s Murrayfield home to protect the national pitch for Scotland’s Six Nations match with France on 8 March, and the former Ospreys flanker is wary of the difficult away trip.

“There’s a few South Africans playing for them, but they’ve developed and grown as the season’s gone on and they nearly pipped the Scarlets, it was a close run thing at Connacht, they’ve beat Munster in the Heineken Cup, so they are starting to develop and it’s going to be a tough affair – going up to Edinburgh has always been tough for us, but it’s something we’ve got to be focused on because it’s a short turnaround for us,” Tandy said.

“With the Ospreys, we want to win every game we take part in. We always know it’s difficult when we go to Edinburgh—we’ve had a couple of defeats up there—so it’s something we’ll focus on.

“We take every game seriously. We want to finish as high up the table as possible – having won the league four times, it’s something we take pretty seriously, [the proposed new European qualification criteria] doesn’t really change anything for us.”

After a defeat by league leaders Munster at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, the Ospreys will be boosted by the return of a trio of players from the Wales camp in Dan Biggar, Justin Tipuric and James King and all three are expected to start against Edinburgh.

“It’s great to have those guys back,” Tandy said. “They’re desperate to come back to play which is always great for us and they’ll go straight into the squad and play a huge part in what will hopefully be a victory for us on Friday.

“Friday is pretty important for us and not getting anything against Munster on Sunday was a bit of a disappointment for us so we know we need to get something out of the game up in Edinburgh because we feel we’ve got a pretty positive run-in.

“I think they’ll bring good energy. Coming back into the environment you can see they’re really keen to play, they’re excited. I spoke to them yesterday, they’re desperate to get back, desperate to play and it’s a good culture to have and they could probably take an easy route and not come back, but they’re desperate to come back to play – they’re class acts.

“Dan’s a big game player. He knows when to kick and when to run. Last week we probably over did it a bit in the way we played, probably didn’t get the rub of the green on some occasions, but you always miss people of his ilk.

“Considering where we are, we lost eight guys to international rugby last week, Munster only lost three and then we’ve got a pretty deep injury list at the minute and, then when you look at it financially, it’s a tough ask for these guys. In fairness, the young group we’ve got I’m pretty excited about and the future is pretty decent for us.

“It’s easier to rebuild when you’ve got a bigger financial scope to work within and Munster are developing – they haven’t got so many internationals, like Leinster get hit hard. It’s difficult but we’re competing really well under the constraints.”

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