Tandy confident Ospreys can handle pressure of carrying Welsh Heineken hopes
THE Ospreys will face Leicester on Sunday with Steve Tandy insisting his players will handle the pressure of carrying Welsh hopes for a spot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
The Blues and Scarlets have fallen by the European wayside, with the pair having lost all their group games so far this term.
It leaves the Ospreys as the sole Welsh contenders for a last-eight spot, trying to prevent the second pool-stage wipe-out for the regions in three seasons.
But, according to Tandy, they are unfazed. "We don't see that as extra pressure," he said.
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"We just want to be winners.
"We have lost people like Ian Evans, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Jarvis and Hanno Dirksen, but we don't make excuses. We just get on with it.
"It's isn't about being reliant on individuals, anyway. It's about the team, and it's surprising what a team can do. That's why I think we are in a good place at the minute, because everyone understands what we are trying to achieve."
The former Neath flanker continued: "All I can do is prepare my team the best I can.
"We want to produce performances that people don't think we can come up with, like defeating Toulouse at home and beating the Scarlets comfortably on Boxing Day.
"Some people doubted that we could put in those performances with all our injuries and limited squad size, but as Ospreys we want to be winners, irrelevant of budget constraints. That kind of stuff doesn't help, but we want to be the best we can be."
The Ospreys will need to cope with Leicester's forward challenge this weekend and they will also need Kahn Fotuali'i and Dan Biggar to control the game from half-back.
For Biggar, the match offers a high-profile opportunity to stake a claim for the Six Nations, though Tandy is adamant the fly-half has already shown his worth in that respect.
"Biggs has put down a decent Six Nations marker already," insisted the head coach.
"He's a stand-out for us with the way he kicks the goals and runs games and has been fantastic from the end of last season through to where we are now."
"I don't like to say too many good things about him," laughed Tandy, "but he's been outstanding.
"He's maturing and, on and off the field, he drives us.
"He's played more than 100 games for the Ospreys yet he is only 23. Whether he plays in the Six Nations will not come down to this game. He's been great for us since I've taken over. He deserves the recognition that he is getting."