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Aironi look to make statement

Guinness PRO12 Editor

14 Oct 2010

Magners League new-boys Aironi Rugby are looking to make a statement in Europe this year and are hoping that it may come when they host Bath on Saturday according to defence coach Rowland Phillips.

The former Ospreys coach made the move to Italy in the summer to join the newly formed franchise and has targeted the fixture against one of England’s heavyweights.

"The Bath match is absolutely huge for us," said Phillips.

"We are really looking forward to playing them, we appreciate they will be strong favouries but we want to continue developing our game and, be it on Saturday at Bath or some other time some where else, we want to make a statement.

"We want to make that statement and not just drift through this Heineken Cup campaign, we want to play a real part in it and be of some influence in our group.

"I know others may have different ideas about Italian rugby but I can assure you the one thing they don't lack is passion – and that passion to both improve and be competitive is one of the great strengths of the Italian game.

"They really are as passionate about their rugby as any team I have been involved with."

Capped 10-times by Wales, the former Neath back row has been impressed with what he has seen in Northern Italy so far and insists they will prove to be quick learners.

"I think that your first season in any tournament – be it the Magners League or the Heineken Cup – it is all about our players realising the competitions we are now involved in are big steps up from what most of them have experienced in the past," he said

"It is not only about the quality of the play. The big difference is that every weekend they are involved in huge pressure and high intensity matches.

"We are in a transitional period and the challenge is to get the players to realise that whereas they had two peaks to aim for each season – the November internationals and the 6 Nations Championship – now it is that sort of match for them week in and week out.

"It is all about getting them accustomed to the fact that their working week is now a different working week, the demands are considerably greater.

"I see the major hurdle we have to clear as being the level of professionalism we have to take on board, things like the recovery process and attention to the small details of preparation is what are going to be vitally important if we want to be as competitive as we want to be every single weekend.

"To be fair we have a lot of players for whom this is all a big step up and, while we do have a core of international players who have tasted this level before as with anything new, the challenge is really understanding what is expected of you individually.

"The big plus is having a group of players who are so keen to learn. No-one was suggesting there would be miracles in our first few months and it is vital we build on what we are doing towards next season and the seasons after that."