Ospreys: Fussell bracing himself for an aerial assault from Tigers
RICHARD Fussell is bracing himself for an aerial bombardment when the Ospreys resume their Heineken Cup campaign against Leicester tomorrow (3).
Hopes of reaching the knockout stages are slim for Steve Tandy's side who are third in Pool 2, five points behind leaders Leicester with two games left to play.
A win against the Aviva Premiership club would revive hopes of progressing ahead of a final group game against Treviso next week.
And Fussell believes the Ospreys will have to deal with a barrage of up-and-unders if they are to topple the Tigers.
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"That's part and parcel of rugby. We do the same ourselves. It's a battle of wits," said the full-back.
"I think everyone gets nervous when it's a high-pressure game like this. It's how you deal with that pressure. You have to switch on and focus on what you need to do.
"We want to play high-quality rugby. I think we have got the players and coaching staff here, the ability to do that.
"European rugby is where we want to be playing. We do what we can week-in, week-out to put ourselves up there.
"With the Heineken it's kind of knockout rugby straightaway and you can't afford a slip-up. That's the only real difference between it and the Pro12."
The Ospreys were in good form over the festive period, overcoming Toulouse, the Scarlets and Dragons, but stalled against Zebre last week when they narrowly scraped a 16-15 win.
Their European campaign has also stuttered.
Tandy's men began by beating Treviso but then suffered consecutive defeats to Leicester and Toulouse before beating the reigning French champions at the Liberty a month ago.
Next they face a Leicester side third in the English top flight, just three points adrift of leaders Harlequins.
"We know we are in a bit of a tough spot," said Fussell.
"As it stands, we have got to win both of our remaining games. We know the pressure is on for us and in many ways, for Leicester and Toulouse.
"Leicester have got a big, powerful and strong team.
"They don't give up for the 80 minutes. They ground out a win doing just that at Worcester last week.
"We know they will be there for the full 80 in Swansea, whether the sun is shining or it's tipping down with rain."
The Ospreys faded in the final ten minutes at Welford Road back in October as Leicester scored three times in the closing stages to win 39-22 and secure a bonus point.
"It was a lack of concentration, we have to make sure we are in this game right to the death, until the 90th minute if you like," said Fussell.
"You have got to take the rough with the smooth. It's what you do, how you react.
"We have got a great opportunity this weekend to put us right back into the fight for the group and perhaps get out of it.
"Leicester are a massive club in England. We are building and want to make sure we are there in the game with them. We have to front up and show those boys what we are made of and, hopefully, come out of it with a win.
"We beat Toulouse and can expect another tough and physical match.
"It's all about momentum and we have to grind it out for the 80 minutes."