Ospreys boss Scott Johnson has emphasised the need for discipline and patience when his star-studded Welsh challengers launch their Heineken Cup campaign at Leicester tomorrow.
Johnson parades a line-up containing six members of the British and Irish Lions squad that toured South Africa this summer.
But revered European warriors Leicester, Heineken Cup winners in 2001 and 2002 and chasing their third final appearance in four seasons, rarely finish second-best, especially on home soil.
“We know it will be difficult,” admitted Johnson, ahead of the Pool Three clash. “We know we need to keep our discipline and we may have to grind it out. Both teams have top-line goalkickers, and to give away three points then means you are chasing the game.
“It will be a hard-fought battle. Leicester haven’t conceded too many tries this year, so it will be up to us to do something special to score.”
Despite reaching two quarter-finals in recent European campaigns, the label of under-achievers is often pinned on the Ospreys, given their enviable playing riches.
Johnson added: “The accusation of under-achieving gets thrown at the Ospreys every year, but everyone said that about Leinster until earlier this year, and everyone said that about Munster as well in previous years.
“It’s about perception and reality. To win a knockout competition you need a few things to come together, luck being a big element, and people get used to winning.
“There are a lot of good sides out there who haven’t reached the last four during the six years that we’ve been attempting it, and plenty who would have swapped places with us reaching the last eight in recent seasons. The reality is that only one side can lift the trophy next May.”
Leicester flanker Lewis Moody makes his 50th Heineken Cup appearance for the Tigers, while props Marcos Ayerza and Julian White return to starting duties after being on the bench against Guinness Premiership opponents Worcester last weekend.
Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill said: “In this competition it is about putting yourself up against the best of the best.
“We have had a number of very close encounters with the Ospreys over the last four years, and most of those games could have gone either way.”