OSPREYS centre Andrew Bishop admits he will have his hands full against Newport Gwent Dragons powerhouse Andy Tuilagi this evening.
The Samoan will form a strong midfield partnership with Pat Leach for the hosts and will be aiming to build on a strong display against Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day.
The 26-year-old crossed for the Dragons’ try in the 12-10 defeat at the Arms Park and caused plenty of problems both with ball in hand and in defence.
Wales centre Bishop was impressed by what he saw but is confident that he can prevent Tuilagi from building up a head of steam.
“Tuilagi is very destructive in the midfield and the Blues struggled to cope with him at times,” said 16-times-capped Bishop, who was a key figure in the Ospreys’ 32-3 Boxing Day drubbing of the Scarlets.
“He is a massive attacking weapon for them and my defence will have to stand firm.
“Personally things went quite well against Manu Tuilagi when we played Leicester, I would rather play against someone who runs hard and straight rather than a side-stepping centre.
“We will have to keep an eye on Tuilagi and Toby Faletau, who are both real ball-carrying threats, but our defence against the Scarlets was superb. If we can keep that up hopefully we will be OK.”
The Ospreys are in fine form after thrashing the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues in the RaboDirect Pro12, as well as claiming the scalp of European big guns Toulouse in the Heineken Cup.
However, Rodney Parade is a venue that they don’t enjoy visiting – they have won just once in Newport in 10 attempts.
“We will treat this match a little different because we have not got a great record there. We will have to have a different mindset,” admitted Bishop.
“If they beat us it would be a huge win and a massive scalp for them, especially with the way we are playing at the moment.
“We know how difficult it is to go there and get that win down there and it would be a huge scalp for us as well.
“I am not sure why we have found things tough at Rodney Parade and have lost there a number of times.
“It is one of those difficult places to go. All the boys love going to Rodney Parade because it is a great atmosphere and we love that bit of banter with the crowd.
“But the crowd are always quite hostile towards us and in the past we have been affected by that.
“The weather conditions are not normally great and it is quite a heavy pitch, which has not suited us in the past.
“The Dragons lift themselves when we go down there and make things very difficult for us, so we can’t get sucked into the game they want to play.
“It would be disappointing to go down there now and lose after two great performances against Toulouse and the Scarlets. We want to keep the momentum going into the new year.”