Looking to build on their encouraging second-half performance in their 34-26 defeat against Connacht, the Ospreys face the Italian outfit looking for their first win in the competition for two seasons.
Under head coach Fabio Roselli there is greater optimism this season of stronger performance levels. A highly competitive 40-36 defeat to Ulster last weekend a reflection that the Italians may not be as much of a pushover as in previous campaigns.
Booth believes the game will be a tough test for his young side expecting the Italians to bring a physical battle but is confident the region can produce a competitive showing.
“Nicky Smith is around this weekend; he is the only one that has come back. He asked to be made available which is good for us giving us more strength in depth,” commented Booth.
“Sam Parry is there and thereabouts so we will have to see how he responds to training. Those are the too fresh faces the rest are pretty similar.
“They have changed a bit from last year looking at them. They are big and strong. We know that Ulster are a good team and have a lot of strength in depth. If they play the way they did, that will provide a big challenge for us.
“Looking at what they have done, there has been a lot of maul play. You can see that in their game there was a lot of work put into that area, attacking and defending it.
“It looks like they are trying to move towards a more traditional Italian team where they used to pride themselves on big physical forwards. There looks like a shift towards that in their recruitment.
“We looked at that game intensely because it’s the only real match footage that we have got and there are a lot of signs of how much they have improved. The most difficult thing will be matching that power more than anything else.
“From my point of view, my job is to control what we can ourselves and whether it’s Zebre, Leinster, Ulster, Sharks, it doesn’t really matter. We will prepare well for all the challenges specific to the opposition.
“Coming back [last week] to get a try bonus point tells you something about the identity of the team and we probably deserved to get two points if I’m being honest.
“You don’t always get what you deserve and staring down at the barrel at 27-5 we can’t be too disappointed to just get one.
“It is a good character reference and benchmark to where we are. The way we have trained and the numbers we’ve had means that it is hard to replicate game intensity.
“We were guilty of not feeling our way in, but more shocked a little bit. The good thing is that we rallied to find a way back into the game.
“Ultimately, that is what we want to pride ourselves on is that we want to compete whenever we play.”
[Lead image: Ospreys Rugby]
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