Ryan Jones: Ospreys can't shy away from pressure of must-win match
RYAN Jones has urged his Ospreys team-mates to "embrace the pressure" that comes with their Heineken Cup eliminator at Northampton tomorrow (12.45pm).
Defeat at Franklin's Gardens will all but end the Liberty region's hopes of progressing in this season's competition and the same applies for Saints, who lost at Castres in their opening match.
Already, it is make or break for both sides, but Jones is not shying away from the 'must-win' tag that goes with this Pool 1 encounter.
"There is a huge weight of expectation and it is a must-win if we are to keep our European dream alive," said the former Wales skipper.
"We were bitterly disappointed with the result and our performance against Leinster, but the beauty of this competition is the games come thick and fast and you are certainly not out of it after round one.
"Yes, there is pressure, but you can't shrink and hide away from that, it is something you have to embrace and enjoy.
"The fact it is a must-win for both teams does give it an added edge, but tomorrow is going to be about composure, you don't go away to these sort of grounds and play by the seat of your pants, it has to be measured, it has to be controlled and we have to construct a win.
"We have a huge respect for Northampton, but it is about getting our own house in order. It is very much about us."
Jones takes his place in a side showing three changes from the 19-9 setback at the hands of Leinster last weekend.
Tito Tebaldi has paid the price for his error in taking a quick tap penalty when three points were up for grabs. The Italian is replaced at scrum-half by Tom Habberfield, while Canadian wing Jeff Hassler comes in for his first European start with Ben John sidelined with a hip injury.
Ryan Bevington is preferred to the experienced Duncan Jones in the front row and Wales and British Lions lock Ian Evans — controversially omitted last week — is ruled out with an Achilles problem.
Northampton also make a number of changes. Former Ospreys favourite Kahn Fotuali'i drops down to the bench with England scrum-half Lee Dickson getting the nod for the No. 9 jersey, but Wales wing George North again starts.
"It's going to be a big test of character and attitude, how this group reacts to a setback, but we know enough about them to realise that we have big-game players in the squad, individuals who are used to pressure situations and it will be up to them to lead by example on Sunday," said head coach Steve Tandy.