Boss Mike Ruddock admits his Warriors are primed to ‘fight for our lives’ when they tackle Bourgoin in the European Challenge Cup semi-final on Saturday – with the prize of Heineken Cup rugby now just two wins away.
Ruddock takes his team back to France to face a side that they finished above in the pool stages but lost out to when the teams last clashed at the Stade Pierre Rajon.
The Director of Ruby admits vivid memories of that defeat remain strong and insists his team is now fired up to erase them and secure a dream return to the cup final.
“At the end of the season we want something to be playing for something and to be chasing some silverware. That is what we are trying to do and hopefully Heineken Cup rugby is now possible,” he said.
“The rewards in the European Challenge Cup are great. It is going to be a big ask for us to go to France and win, but we will be trying our best and we’re up for it. We have prepared well and if that leads to Heineken Cup rugby then that is fantastic.
“We have obviously played them in our pool and we topped the group stages against them having won at home. But we did lose away and we have got memories of that.
“I have looked over the tapes and there have been some reminders of how tough Bourgoin are going to be. They showed that when they went to London Irish and won, that was a fantastic performance by them.
“They have rested some players in the last week or two in the French league to make sure they have a full compliment for this game. That could work for them but it could be that doesn’t work so well in terms of match rustiness and cohesiveness.
“We have to try and pressure them straight away and make sure they don’t settle again. It starts with the set piece, they have a big strong scrum so we will fight for our lives with Darren Morris playing out of position and doing a great job for us.
“The lineout we have got to make sure we get ball and pressure them. It will be a big challenge for us to try and close down their time and space – they offer a lot of threats as they are a fine all-round team.”
Ruddock will be without recent injury victims Matthew Jones, Marcel Garvey and Loki Crichton for the away trip.
However, he revealed that wing wonder Garvey could yet make a quick-fire return for the cup final line-up should his team make it.
“It is a major blow to lose the players we have, but whatever team we put out we will back to go and get a result. We are looking forward to it,” he added.
“Marcel has got fractures in and around the joint and the specialist has reported that it will need to be pinned.
“But there is no displacement so that is great news and if we were to make the final, which we hope we will, there is an outside chance that he could just have healed in time to make that.
“It is a cliché, but we will take it a week at a time, there is a ray of hope that we might get someone like Marcel back in the panel should we make the final.”