Biarritz bid for four in a row

Biarritz Olympique are bidding to qualify for the Heineken Cup semi-finals for the fourth successive season – and they are banking on their massive Basque support helping to make it four in a row at Estadio Anoeta across the border in San Sebastian.


And, although they beat their quarter-finals opponents Northampton Saints home and away in their Pool 6 matches earlier in the tournament, international back row forward Thomas Lievremont dismisses any hint of complacency creeping into their approach.
“It’s great to be back at Anoeta,” he said.


“We are all looking forward to playing on that pitch in front of a massive crowd again.


“I think all the tickets which have gone on sale have been sold already and that is a great feeling, that there are people throughout the Basque Country who are going to come and support us so who wouldn’t be looking forward to it?


“It has also been such a lucky charm for us – three wins out of three means we are pretty relaxed about it and don’t have the same feeling of slight trepidation that we had for the match against Munster back in 2005.


“The statistics of played two, won two against Northampton this season has obviously been used a lot by the media in the build-up to this game but we are determined not to fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as out and out favourites.


“They have a strong side and have everything to play for. In a way, we have more to lose so we are certainly not underestimating them at all.


“And Northampton have a lot of big players who we certainly noticed in our matches against them in the Pool stages. I know Steve Thompson is out but Dylan Hartley is certainly not there for decoration!


“He is a great hooker and joins a very strong pack, and with the likes of Carlos Spencer and Bruce Reihana in the back line, we know how dangerous they can be while they’ve just made the signing of Christian Labit who is someone who knows all the tricks and who knows us very well too.


“We’re struggling in the Top 14 at the moment. We lost a key game at home just before Christmas to Toulouse and with only two Rounds played since then, we have not been able to really move past it. We’re currently out of the play-off positions so the Heineken Cup is a breath of fresh air for the players.


“The recent Six Nations loss to England was hard on all of the French squad, but I don’t think it will have a negative impact on our squad. None of the BO players felt they had a great game that day and, now that the Six Nations is over, they will be looking 100 percent towards the quarter-final and maybe a chance to take a bit of revenge on the English.


“We have only had two friendlies since our Round 6 Pool game and I’m not sure whether it’s an advantage or not. Obviously we will be more rested than Northampton but they will be more match-ready; having played a few more games.


It’s not really until the end of the season where you start getting tired so it’s swings and roundabouts really.

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