Biarritz wary of Ospreys having a flier

French Grand Slam hero Imanol Harinordoquy is hoping national glory and confidence will be transported seamlessly from country to club when Biarritz Olympique meet the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals at Estadio Anoeta in the Spanish city of San Sebastian on Saturday.

It will be the first tournament meeting between the teams with the winner set to enjoy home country advantage in the semi-finals against the winner of the Munster v Northampton Saints quarter-final.

“It’s always easier to get back into your club and follow your objectives on the back of winning a tournament such as the 6 Nations, especially a Grand Slam, because you are in a winning attitude and your sense of achievement is a formidable motivation for the rest of the season,” said the hugely influential No 8.

“It gives you a lot of energy and enthusiasm but the remainder of the season still promises to be a tough one both on domestic and European levels.

“We had a good 26-10 win against Toulouse the other week and then beat Montauban 42-13 last weekend so hopefully we have kept on the right track and this has been good preparation to approach our major Heineken Cup quarter-final encounter against the Ospreys.

“It is a great occasion for us to play such a crucial fixture in San Sebastian and we’ll be away the whole week leading up to the game to prepare – this is a match not to be missed.

“We know it will be very tough but what is at stake is the possibility of a home semi-final and it would be likely for us again to play at Estadio Anoeta. The players and fans would be extremely happy if that happened and the thought of playing in front of over 30,000 fans is simply brilliant.

“We have never faced the Ospreys but we expect a really tough game. They have an incredible three-quarter line with extraordinary individuals and their squad consists almost entirely of internationals.

“They are capable of producing momentum and play the ball wide a lot and it is hard to compete when they hold the ball. As far as any weaknesses go, I think they have more qualities than defects.

“Their entire back row has got massive experience and I think that in all positions they have heaps of serious candidates.

“As for the Welsh internationals they all know each other and play together very often so that also counts a lot towards the high level of this team while they have a key Irish player in Tommy Bowe so all in all it doesn’t get much better than this in any European club.

“However, we shouldn’t spend too much time looking at who we have opposite us because we may end up getting complexes but from now on each match will be like playing a final due to the intensity, quality and level of the competition.

“Four French clubs are through to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this season and this shows how healthy French rugby is at the moment and I hope French clubs will go far this time round.

“The incentive of having a final hosted at the Stade de France may well be a plus. It’s always more motivating and it spices things up to know you could play a final on your home soil.

“My best tournament memory is not the 2006 final but rather my first Heineken Cup quarter-final in 2005 against Munster when it was our first time in Estadio Anoeta in San Sebastian.

“To this day that remains an exceptional memory. There were 10,000 Irish fans who travelled for the occasion and the celebrations took place before, during and after the game in such a great atmosphere of sharing and conviviality that it was simply amazing.”

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