Treviso look to end losing run
November 6, 2007
Benetton Treviso captain Silvio Orlando insists the Italian champions have no intention of being the Pool 1 soft touches after successive whitewashes in the competition.
After three Pool wins in the 2004 / 2005 campaign, the Italian side have lost 12 straight games after being drawn in daunting groups.
But Italian international flanker Orlando says they are more equipped to compete in this season's tournament having been paired with Perpignan, Newport Gwent Dragons and London Irish.
"Rugby is certainly on the way up in Italy and we feel that in a few years time we will be on the same level with the rest of the European club teams," he said.
"At the moment we are still slightly behind the other sides, but, looking at the scores in the last few years, they show we are certainly getting closer. Hopefully we can take a scalp in this season's competition and there's no reason why we can't do so.
"I think we have to target one or two home wins and anything else away would be a bonus. It would be a tall order to qualify, but winning your home games is the start."
Despite Treviso's disappointing return in last season's competition, the Italian champions are hoping to build on two encouraging performances against former finalists Perpignan when they face London Irish for the first time in the opening weekend of matches.
"We ran Perpignan close and we can take heart out of that when we face them and the other two teams," added Orlando.
"It's important we begin well in our first game otherwise it can be a long run of games in front us."
And for their part London Irish captain Bob Casey believes a big win over Benetton Treviso can kick-start their bid for a first Heineken Cup quarter-final place.
The former Ireland and Leinster lock and his Exiles team-mates clash with the Italian champions at the Madejski Stadium on the opening Saturday before meeting the challenges of Newport Gwent Dragons and Pool 1 favourites Perpignan.
And Casey believes anything less than a try bonus triumph would leave them facing an uphill task for the rest of the group stages.
"Hopefully a win can get us up and running," said Casey. "This competition is all about building momentum and that's why a big win from our first Pool game has to be our target.
"Last season we lost to Llanelli Scarlets at home and straight away we were up against it. We know there will be harder games to go in our Pool this season, but a good bonus point win against Treviso is the sort of morale-boosting start you look for."
London Irish have never gone beyond the group stages in the competition, but 28-year-old Casey believes his new-look cosmopolitan side can make it third time lucky.
"Our squad in our previous two Heineken Cup competitions hasn't had the depth it has now," he added. "But we have recruited well in the pre-season and we have high hopes for our European campaign."
HEINEKEN CUP 2007 / 2008 - (All kick-offs LOCAL times)
FRIDAY 9 NOVEMBER, 2007
* Delayed ** Highlights *** Live via interactive