Wednesday 28 September 2016

Ospreys focusing on Leinster and not Europe - Gibbes

Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30

Scarlets out-half Dan Biggar will be coming up against Johnny Sexton (Photo: Sportsfile)
Scarlets out-half Dan Biggar will be coming up against Johnny Sexton (Photo: Sportsfile)

When Leo Cullen set about analysing the form of the Ospreys this week, he will have noticed some similarities with his own team.

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The Welsh side's Pro12 form has been rather inconsistent this season but just like Leinster they have been rejuvenated in recent weeks.

Ospreys have won their last five games on the bounce but perhaps crucially, unlike this evening's visitors, they are still very much in contention in Europe.

While their primary focus will be on Leinster tonight, the coaching staff are sure to have more than one eye on Clermont Auvergne's visit to Bordeaux as they catch up on their postponed European game.

For the Ospreys players however, their focus is very much on Leinster as they look to continue their rise up the Pro12 table, and forwards coach Chris Gibbes insists that is motivation in itself before they return to European action.

The Welsh side take on Clermont next weekend before travelling to Exeter in what is a two-week period that will define their Champions Cup campaign.

"It's a big week leading into Europe and that's a tournament we get excited about, but we can't focus on anything past Leinster. If we do that and miss detail, we'll get slaughtered," Gibbes said.

"Leinster's own European campaign may not have been a success this term, but that will steel up their resolve. They are going to be really chasing the Pro12 and will come to the Liberty going after a win.

"They are a side who can put you to the sword very quickly and if we produce the lapses in our game that we have been showing over the past couple of weeks, they could hurt us. We have to be on top of our game."

Dan Biggar is set to come up against Johnny Sexton in a mouthwatering clash and Gibbes insists that the Wales out-half is relishing the challenge.

"They're always good clashes. They're both fierce competitors, both very good players. I know Dan will be relishing the opportunity to play against him.

"What's important for us is that as a team, we get the job done and get parity up front. We've got the pack to do it and if we go forward, it makes it a lot easier."

Ospreys resurgent form has in no small part been aided by the recent performances of their talismanic skipper Alun-Wyn Jones.

Towering

The towering second-row has yet to re-commit to a dual contract but, according to reports in Wales, he is set to reject big-money offers from France.

Despite his vast amount of experience, Gibbes reckons that Jones is still continuing to improve and acknowledged that it would a huge boost if the Ospreys can secure his future.

"It would be a pretty positive thing. We want him at the club, so hopefully that's what will happen.

"I've seen a development in his game this season. His catch-pass game is coming on, he's more of an attacking threat and we are seeing him on the ball a bit more, which is what you want. He's a big man who runs fast."

The Ospreys captain being named on the bench is a sign that their focus may well be on Europe. Leinster must take full advantage.

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