Scarlets v Ospreys: Pride will drive us on, says Richard Hibbard
RICHARD Hibbard has hit back at the prophets of gloom who are predicting a hiding for the Ospreys at the hands of the Scarlets in Llanelli tomorrow, with the hooker declaring: “Our pride isn’t going to let that happen.”
On BBC’s Scrum V programme, it was stated there might even be expectation of a 40-point defeat for Steve Tandy’s out-of-touch team.
But while conceding that form is against the Ospreys — they have started the season with three straight reverses, while the Scarlets are unbeaten in as many games — Hibbard insists they are in no mood to subside in the big West Wales derby.
“Whoever is expecting a win for the Scarlets by 30 to 40 points is not going to see it,” said Hibbard.
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“Our pride isn’t going to let it happen.
“I think the boys would rather die than let that happen.
“We are as disappointed as anyone with the way the season has panned out so far.
It’s totally not the start we were looking for. We wanted to make a good defence of our title. That said, it’s far from over yet. It’s all about finishing in the top four and that still isn’t beyond us.”
The Ospreys have made no secret of their respect for the Scarlets’ backs, spearheaded by George North, who has four tries to his credit already this term.
But they believe that if they can cut the supply line to the home runners then it isn’t out of the question for the form book to be turned on its head.
The issue is whether the Ospreys can summon the kind of forward power they displayed when surging to the title last term.
“If you look at the Scarlets’ game against Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, their pack had a bit of a struggle, but they have such a good backline they carried the team through,” said Hibbard.
“What we have to do is take away their platform.
“If we can do that, hopefully it will stop their backs playing.”
The match is expected to throw up a number of intriguing head-to-heads, among them Scott Williams v Ashley Beck in midfield, Rhys Priestland v Dan Biggar at fly-half and either Matthew Rees or Ken Owens v Hibbard at hooker.
“Wales being such a small country you know who you are playing in these matches,” said Hibbard.
“Most of us are mates.
“But the great thing is you are benchmarking yourself against other players in your position, with the national squad in mind.
“It isn’t about individuals tomorrow, though. We want to do it for our supporters. After three defeats, we want to do something for the people who come and back us. We want to give them the bragging rights.”
It will be the first meeting of the season for the South Wales Evening Post Challenge Cup, currently in the hands of the Scarlets.