Heineken Cup Pool 1: Ospreys v Castres match preview
Ospreys go in search of their first Heineken Cup win of the season in Friday's clash against Castres at Liberty Stadium.
Last Updated: 13/12/13 7:28pm
Their hopes of making the knockout stages are all but over following the 15-9 defeat in France last week when the Welsh region slipped to a third straight loss in Pool 1.
Toulouse are the only French side to have triumphed at the Liberty Stadium back in 2004, while Castres were defeated 20-11 on their last visit to Swansea in January 2005.
Sam Davies will make his Heineken Cup debut at full-back in Friday's contest while Marc Thomas will make his tournament debut if he comes off the bench.
"It was a tough evening out in Castres last weekend and although we were obviously disappointed to come away with just a point, there was a lot of good that we could take out of the game and use to prepare for Friday night," said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy.
"Going into these games on the back of four tough, physical, autumn internationals, straight into two Heineken Cup games, three Welsh derbies and then Europe again in January, it's a big ask for certain players to go right through.
Strength in depth
"We don't have the strength in depth that we used to, none of the regions do, which means that we have to manage players to ensure that they are physically able to cope with the workload.
"We had a great afternoon here at the Liberty 12 months ago in similar circumstances against Toulouse and that will be the target on Friday night.
"With big Welsh derbies coming up it's important that we get things right on the field, and build some momentum with some good performances in front of what we hope will be some big crowds, not only on Friday but against the Scarlets and Northampton next month."
Castres have made two changes to their backline with Geoffrey Palis taking over from French international Brice Dulin at full-back, while Remi Tales returns to the fly-half berth in place of Daniel Kirkpatrick.
In the pack, there is an all-new back row including Antonie Claassen at No. 8, Rodrigo Capo Ortega comes into the second row and there are also two changes in the front row as Yannick Forestier returns.
Ospreys: 15 Davies, 14 Natoga, 13 Isaacs, 12 John, 11 Hassler, 10 Biggar, 9 Webb; 1 Bevington, 2 Hibbard, 3 Jarvis, 4 Evans, 5 King, 6 Lewis, 7 Tipuric, 8 Jones (c).
Replacements: 16 Baldwin, 17 Thomas, 18 Suter, 19 Ardron , 20 Allen, 21 Habberfield, 22 Morgan, 23 Grabham.
Castres: 15 Palis, 14 Garvey, 13 Lamerat, 12 Bonnefond, 11 Grosso, 10 Tales (c), 9 Kockott; 1 Forestier, 2 Rallier, 3 Peikrishvili, 4 Gray, 5 Ortega, 6 Bornman, 7 Caballero, 8 Claassen.
Replacements: 16 Mach, 17 Taumoepeau, 18 Coetzee, 19 Samson, 20 Diarra, 21 Tomas, 22 Kirkpatrick, 23 Evans.
Watch Ospreys play Castres on Sky Sports 3 - on the red button - tonight, with coverage from 7pm