Focus needs to be on players not reputations

Worcester News: Richard de Carpentier is felled by a Biarritz tackler during the first meeting between the sides in this season’s Amlin Cup. Richard de Carpentier is felled by a Biarritz tackler during the first meeting between the sides in this season’s Amlin Cup.

TONIGHT’S Amlin Challenge Cup match in Biarritz will be all about the two sets of 15 players on the field and not the reputation of the team.

You have to be careful in not getting caught up in the reputation of the side you are playing, but that also works the other way in relation to us.

Although Worcester Warriors are bottom of the league, we know we are a better side than that. You can’t get bogged down with your league position – you have to stay positive and the same goes for Biarritz.

They are not the same team they were three or four years ago, but any side in France will be a tough challenge.

It is difficult to know how they will approach the game, but they have world-class players such as Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquy in their squad. I have played against those two many times over the years and they are right up there with the best.

This sort of scenario when you are playing the same team back-to-back is unique in the course of a season, so it is a bit of a strange situation.

Normally, we analyse different teams from week to week, but this time we will go into our game at Biarritz with intimate knowledge of what they will do from last Thursday’s game at Sixways.

The major difference, though, will be that they will have the vocal support of their home crowd behind them. I played Biarritz a few years ago and their pitch always seems to be a bit boggy and it is often raining down there.

I don’t think tonight’s game being away from home makes it more difficult for us as we will prepare well for the game.

The only main difference is that French sides are often much more pumped up in front of their home fans. However, we have prepared well and we know we can go out to France and compete with teams on their own territory after picking up a 9-9 draw in Oyonnax earlier in the competition.

Last week’s game was a bitter pill for us to swallow, because I felt we dominated large parts of it – especially in the first-half – but we could always see they were good on the counter-attack and that they had dangerous runners.

Typically of a French team, they caught us on the break right at the death after we hadn’t made the most of our opportunities earlier in the game.

If you don’t kill games off when you have the chance, you leave yourself open to what happened to us against Biarritz last week.

To lose the game like that was very disappointing, especially after all the effort the lads had put in to back up the Northampton Saints game just five days earlier. Still, I think we can be confident going over to Biarritz for tonight’s rematch.

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