Habberfield gets nod over Tebaldi for Ospreys crunch clash at Northampton
TITO Tebaldi has paid the price for his error in last weekend’s defeat to Leinster as he drops out of the Ospreys side to face Northampton Saints in a critical Heineken Cup clash at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday (12.45pm).
Tebaldi has been replaced at scrum-half by former Wales Under-20s talent Tom Habberfield as one of three changes to the Ospreys starting XV.
Canadian wing Jeff Hassler comes in for his first European start with Ben John sidelined with a hip injury, while Ryan Bevington is preferred to the experienced Duncan Jones in the front row.
Wales and British Lions second row Ian Evans — not selected for the round one game at the Liberty — is ruled out with an Achilles problem.
Northampton — beaten out in Castres last weekend — also make a number of changes.
Former Ospreys favourite Kahn Fotuali’i drops down to the bench with England international scrum-half Lee Dickson getting the nod for the No. 9 jersey.
Wales wing George North starts, while Jamie Elliott comes in on the other wing.
Elsewhere, Alex Waller replaces injured Lions prop Alex Corbisiero, while Phil Dowson and Samu Manoa are drafted into the back row.
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said: “We are well aware that we need to make some big improvements if we are going to put in the kind of performance at Northampton that we need. They are in the same boat as us having also lost their first game, so no doubt there’ll be a tension and edge to the game.”
Northampton: Ben Foden; Jamie Elliott, George Pisi, Luther Burrell, George North; Stephen Myler, L. Dickson; Alex Waller, Dylan Hartley (capt), Salesi Ma’afu, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Tom Wood, Samu Manoa, Phil Dowson. Reps: Mike Haywood, Ethan Waller, Gareth Denman, GJ van Velze, Calum Clark, Kahn Fotuali’i, James Wilson, Ken Pisi.
Ospreys: Richard Fussell; Jeff Hassler, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James King, Ryan Jones, Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric. Reps: Scott Baldwin, Duncan Jones, Aaron Jarvis, Tyler Ardron, Morgan Allen, Sam Lewis, Tito Tebaldi, Matthew Morgan.