Steve Tandy: Pro12 will be tougher than ever in new campaign
STEVE Tandy has warned that the Pro12 league will be tougher than ever in the new campaign — with the Ospreys' opponents this weekend among the sides he expects to be especially dangerous in the season ahead.
The former champions start their programme on Saturday evening with a date against Treviso at Stadio Monigo, where no Welsh team won last term.
Tandy has told his players to brace themselves for a hugely challenging fixture while warning that every point will have to be earned in the competition this season, with threats across the board.
"The league is getting more and more competitive," said the Ospreys' head coach. "The Scarlets made the top four last year and Glasgow are a strong outfit as well, while Leinster probably still look favourites. I know they have lost Joe Schmidt as coach and he did an amazing job with them, but a different voice may just give them that extra energy.
"There's also Treviso and the Dragons to consider.
"The Dragons have made a number of good signings, while Treviso win a lot of home games and lost only one of their last seven matches last term, so I can see them being a real force.
"It's a tough league."
The Ospreys will be understrength this weekend, missing some of their Lions after the tour of Australia in the summer.
But they know as well as anyone how damaging it can be to get off to a bad start in the league, with three straight defeats last term ultimately wrecking their bid to make the play-offs.
And with Leinster to face in Dublin a week on Saturday, Tandy knows how important it is for the Ospreys to perform in northern Italy.
"It's a difficult fixture because year on year Treviso have got better as a side," he added.
"They have a really physical pack, decent backs and they have always had a goal-kicking fly-half. But we feel we have the right group to go out there and hopefully get our season off to a good start."
The Ospreys may have lost Kahn Fotuali'i but they have made several signings and Tandy believes they are stronger than last term. "I feel we have more depth," he said.
"We have a whole host of young guys. Jeff Hassler and Tyler Ardron, our two Canadians, are looking good, and Tito Tebaldi has done pretty well in our pre-season games. We were disappointed not to finish in the top four last season, but had we won one of our final two games we would have made it. The campaign will stand us in good stead."