Balshaw has sights on Amlin Cup glory

PA Sport
Iain Balshaw
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Iain Balshaw

Former England star Iain Balshaw has underlined that Biarritz will mean business when they face Wasps in their Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Like their hosts, Biarritz have struggled on the domestic scene this season. The French club know that lifting the Challenge Cup represents their only realistic chance of qualifying for next season's top-flight Heineken competition.

"We are unlikely to make the top six (league) places and qualify for the Heineken Cup that way, so that makes the Amlin Challenge Cup a massively important competition for us," Biarritz full-back Balshaw said.

"The incentive for us is that we are three games - albeit three very hard games - away from a trophy, and that trophy also provides the winner with the gateway into next season's Heineken Cup.

"We have had a tremendously frustrating season so far because of our inconsistency, and that has shown in both our performances and results.

"Those unforced errors and turnovers have been killing us because if you give away around 12 of those chances then your opponents will take at least some of them and punish you with points. However, when we get our game spot-on we can compete with anyone."

For their part, Wasps are likely to field a similar side to the one that claimed a crucial Premiership victory over Gloucester last weekend, which would mean another chance for their promising array of young talent.

"We've had to blood a lot of young players this year, and there are youngsters at Wasps already with some great experience under their belt as a result," Wasps rugby director David Young said.

"I have no doubt they will be relishing the chance to have a crack at Biarritz.

"Young players have no respect for big names, and our young players showed that last week. They went out and mixed it with some really experienced Gloucester players and did a great job."

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