The Ospreys have been warned to beware the England steamroller when they face Worcester today in their crunch European Challenge Cup clash at the Liberty Stadium.
Ben Te’o came off the bench to help the Warriors finally bash down the Ospreys’ defence for a 27-21 victory in the home fixture and containing the Lions centre’s power is likely to be key factor if the region are to keep their knockout hopes alive.
Te’o has not played for the Warriors since due to international commitments and being a handed a chance to refresh, so Warriors head coach Rory Duncan is expecting the New Zealand-born player to cause the Ospreys plenty of headaches.
“The one thing he does give you and I don’t think anyone can argue with it is that he certainly gives you front-foot ball,” said Duncan.
“He is a big man and carries really hard. In the games against Saracens and Bath he certainly gave us some good front-foot ball to be able to play off.
“It is nice to have a big ball carrier at 12 but in saying that Ryan Mills isn’t the smallest inside centre around so we are fortunate to have both of those guys.”
The Ospreys are out to inflict revenge on the Gallagher Premiership outfit who are two points ahead of Ospreys with two pool matches remaining, but that could all change this weekend.
Ospreys coach Allen Clarke will be hopeful they can turn the tables on the Warriors at their European fortress. His side have won all five of their pool stage home games in the Challenge Cup by an average margin of 42 points.
And despite their hard-fought victory over the Cardiff Blues, Clarke is determined to improve to recreate their regional rivals’ Challenge Cup success.
“After the Pro14 derbies our attention now turns to the Challenge Cup against the team who sit top of our group, two points above us,” said Clarke.
“As ever, the theme of the week has been to concentrate on ourselves, striving to improve as individuals and as a team. There were many positives in the win over Cardiff and we were satisfied with the performance. However, we know there are areas of the game were we can become even better.
“We’re working hard to deliver consistent team performances and Saturday is another opportunity to deliver in front of our home support.”
Wales lock Adam Beard is misses out after being stretchered off last weekend, but the neck injury he sustained in their derby triumph is not as bad as first feared. Rhodri Jones was another forced off with injury during that game, and he is replaced by Gareth Thomas on the loosehead side of the scrum.
Lloyd Ashley partners James King in the second-row while Justin Tipuric skippers the side on he blindside flank alongside Olly Cracknell and Sam Cross.
Luke Price comes in for Sam Davies at outside-half in a backline including Aled Williams, Keelan Giles, Scott Williams, Cory Allen, George North and Dan Evans.