Ospreys captain Ryan Jones insists that back-to-back Welsh derbies are ensuring he and his team-mates are ignoring the forthcoming Heineken Cup quarter-final.
The Ospreys travel to French giants Biarritz in the last eight of the European Cup on April 10 but they must first face the Dragons and Scarlets on successive weekends in the Magners League.
And having slipped to fifth in the domestic standings following defeat to Edinburgh last time out, the Ospreys know a brace of victories could be absolutely crucial when it comes to securing qualification for Magners League Play-Offs.
Jones leads a star-studded Ospreys team against the Dragons at Rodney Parade tomorrow evening knowing a win could push them back into the Play-Off places with five games left to play.
"We’ve got a lot of work to do before we start to contemplate the Heineken Cup game,” said Jones, who returns from Six Nations duty to reinforce the Ospreys.
“We’ve got ambitions of reaching the Magners League Play-Offs, and we’re currently outside of the top four so we wouldn’t even qualify if the season was to end now.
“It’s really tight at the top of the table, and if the Dragons were to beat us on Saturday night it would be even tighter.
“It’s great as a group of international players to be coming back into our ‘own’ environment. This is where we spend most of time in work and there’s a great atmosphere and spirit here.
“What we have to do now is make sure that we are focussed properly on the job in hand over the next couple of weeks. (We need to) get our performances right for these next couple of games and everything else should take care of itself before we turn our attention to the second phase of this busy period, starting with Biarritz before a very difficult set of games in Ireland.
“We can’t think too far ahead at the moment, we can’t allow ourselves to get distracted. We have to do it one game at a time.”
Jones admits that the next few weeks will be massive for the immediate future of the Ospreys.
Put together a winning run and a Magners League Play-Off place and a first-ever European semi-final could be theirs.
Fall short in one or any of the upcoming matches and the 2009/10 season could come to a premature end.
"We’ve got a massive month or so ahead of us" added Jones, ahead of a four-week period that sees their Heineken Cup quarter-final sandwiched in between Magners League ties against the Dragons, Scarlets, Ulster, Leinster and Munster, with all bar one of those games taking place away from the Liberty Stadium.
"When you look at the fixture list over this period, the size of the task we face is clear.
“We’ve got back-to-back Welsh derbies that are bound to be physical and intense battles, then we go straight into a massive game against Biarritz in the Heineken Cup, followed by three tough games away against Irish sides in under two weeks.
“That’s a difficult schedule by anyone’s standards, and we realise that we need to be on top form right the way through this period if we are going to achieve what we want to.
“It will define our entire season, whether it is a success or not."