Perpignan coach Philippe Boher pinpoints former Perpignan favourite Raphael Ibanez as London Wasps’ chief dangerman…

Perpignan travel to Adams Park on Saturday for their Pool 1 showdown with London Wasps with coach Philippe Boher pinpointing fellow Frenchman and former Perpignan favourite Raphael Ibanez as the chief dangerman to their quarter-final qualification hopes…

Perpignan – the 2003 Heineken Cup finalists – trail Wasps by two points with the Round 5 clash crucial to both clubs in their bids to make the prestigious last eight with the French club as keen as ever to take Heineken Cup rugby across the border to Barcelona.

“Obviously our first objective at Adams Park will be to win the game – and there is more at stake for us than just qualification,” said Boher.
“A win at Wasps – and then another at home against Benetton Treviso – would put us in a strong position for a home quarter-final and an opportunity to go to Barcelona.

“It means a great deal to the players, the club, the supporters and the Catalan people for us to take a game to Barcelona and we will put everything we have into it.

“That said, I am acutely aware of just how few teams have beaten Wasps at home in the Heineken Cup. They have a very strong home record and have been putting in some hugely impressive performances in the English Premiership so we are in no doubt regarding the massive task ahead of us.

“The return of Ibanez to the Wasps squad is very significant.

“He is a great player – who I obviously know from his time at Perpignan – and he will no doubt have a very strong influence over his team-mates.

“He is a great strategist and a very capable player. In addition to all that, he knows every trick in the book when it comes to scrummaging so we are going to have to keep a close eye on him!

“We have been looking at some of the Wasps games on video, notably their matches against Northampton and Bath, and, as one was in the rain and the other was in the fog, we are prepared for any weather conditions!

“We know that Wasps are a very physical side – as we certainly found out at Aimé Giral in Round 2. However, our own physicality is something we work on a lot at Perpignan and I am sure that this match will have a real sense of combat.”

Perpignan, who lost to Wasps in both their previous meetings in the tournament back in 2003 / 2004, won the home match last October 19-12 and are now preparing to try and make it a successful away day in High Wycombe.

“We have some injury problems at the moment which I have to admit are a real worry for us,” said Boher.

“Two of our club captains – Nathan Hines (broken foot) and Bernard Goutta (sprained knee) – will not be able to take the field in addition to the long term injuries in Manny Edmonds and Frederico Martin Aramburu who have thigh and knee injuries respectively.

“On the plus side Steve Meyer is back in the squad and I am confident we are going to be able to field a strong team for the start of what is going to be a really tough month of rugby.

“Our Heineken Cup matches are sandwiched between Top 14 games against Toulouse and Bourgoin and, with no easy matches, there will be no chance to rest players. But we will take it one game at a time and, hopefully at the end of the Pool stages, we will be able to take a Heineken Cup quarter-final to Barcelona.”